My World Turned Upside Down

May 7th, 2008 • Category: Gospel of Luke
by Theresa Benson

Today’s scripture: Luke 6:20-22 (ESV-text and audio) (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Theresa Benson):

In the summer of 2004, I was in Silicon Valley (California), and thought I had it all.

I had grown our business as a salesperson by leaps and bounds; I could afford to buy a home in one of the most expensive markets in the country; I had the admiration of my peers; I attended the Regional Emmys with a local news “celebrity” I was dating — and I was dating a couple other guys, too. Things were good.

By September, though, my dating relationships had ended, my manager had moved on to a different job and I didn’t get the “big promotion” to his old position, despite my tremendous results. When I looked for comfort among the peers who celebrated my success, I found it was they who were climbing over my back to get my boss’s old job.

By February, my Mom had fallen and broken her shoulder, and then had two heart attacks. I decided to take a month off without pay and spend the time with her trying to get her settled.

By May of 2005, I was moving to Indiana, to start over again in another city where I didn’t know anyone, taking a definitely lateral (if not downward) move in my career, struggling with an employee here who thought she should have my job (and was going to make sure I knew I wasn’t welcome) and in July, my Mom was found dead in her bed in Omaha.

“Blessed are you who weep,” Jesus says. I don’t think “blessed” was the first adjective I thought of back then.

I don’t think this particular passage means that we should jump for joy when our lives are miserable or find ways to make things worse like a group of Jesus-centered masochists. I’ve heard sermons where the pastors are advocating the “blessed are the poor” portion as a reason to give all one’s money away. I don’t think that’s what this is about at all.

However, I will say that my life is a heck of a lot more fulfilling today than it ever was at the height of my “success” in 2004, and I am excited about where it’s going to take me next.

I know, too, that I owe a lot of that to understanding that I’m not the owner of one ounce of anything in my life. Everything I have comes from Someone much bigger than me. It’s my job to receive it, celebrate it, and do the best that I can with it, but to never forget that I am poor without the One who created and gave me everything, and that in a moment, I need to be willing to let go — and trust the next step will be better than the last.

If you’d told me in August of 2005 that I would be a global account manager responsible for helping develop a strategy for a multi-billion dollar corporation, and be in a healthy, God-centered relationship with a loving, supportive man who my family and friends love just 2-and-a-half years later, there’s no way that I would have believed you.

But I needed to get to a point where I saw how poor I was without God at the center of my life. I needed to be reminded of how transient earthly success is, and that it was necessary for me to let go. As soon as I did let go, my life changed absolutely for the better.

No matter how much success I have in my earthly life, some of the most beautiful parts are my daily prayer time on my own or with my boyfriend, or watching his mom, a devout Muslim, honor God in her way, or reading Bible passages and seeking out God’s message for me in them.

My life is no longer one-dimensional and dependent on something fleeting — I remember Who fills my hunger and Whose kingdom I’m working to build.

Thought for the day: What part of your life makes you feel like you’re in poverty, hungry, and weeping? How might God use that to turn your world around?

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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