A number of years ago, I stumbled upon a poem. Whether this the original version or not, I’m not sure, but it’s close. It is found in a book by Wilbur Rees entitled “Three Dollars Worth of God.”

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine.
I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

When I think about some of my brothers and sisters living in endless poverty or facing merciless persecution, this poem hits hard. Having grown up where and when I have, my life has been relatively easy. I’ve never had to wonder if I could eat tomorrow or had a place to sleep. I have been allowed to go to church whenever and wherever I want to with little concern that I would be harassed or be in danger. This reality can create a false sense of self-sufficiency.

Think about it – when we are in crisis, it is at those times that we draw closest to God. We cry out to Him in our desperation and helplessness. When we have no where else to turn, we know that we can turn to God. He is both faithful and He is present.

The Beatitudes recorded in Luke’s gospel declare:
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

(Luke 6:20-23)

Most of us who live in first world countries can have a hard time with passages like this. They make us squirm a bit in our seats. How can the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful, and the reviled and persecuted be considered blessed? Don’t I consider myself to be blessed when these things aren’t part of my life?

Perhaps the answer is not found in the physical state of a person but in their spiritual state. In fact, Matthew shares that Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). In other words, a person may have possessions and yet be impoverished in spirit. They see themselves not as owners of abundance, but as people who have been entrusted by God with wealth for a time AND who know God can call for that wealth at any time. The poor in spirit do not gain their sense of worth by their net worth. They are dependent upon God not on a regular paycheck or long-term investments.

Thinking back to the Rees’ poem and the reason it is so impactful, I am struck by the truth that sometimes all we feel we really need is about $3 worth of God – or perhaps a bit more due to inflation. We seem to be well enough on our own. God is a kind of add-on to life rather than being central to it. A couple of verses read in the morning and a quick prayer before we are out the door, and we’ve pretty much got what we want from God.

May the Lord make us wholly discontent with the things of this world. May He birth within us an unquenchable thirst to know Him more. May we open ourselves up to knowing God’s richest blessing by becoming poor in spirit, hungry for Him, grieved over sin and rebellion in our own lives, and willing to pay whatever price there may be to remain faithful to our calling. May we declare with the psalmist –
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. (Psalm 42:1)

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