I expected a larger cloud of dust to billow out from the faded mustard bedspread as I plopped down to scan the motel room. It was much different than the 4-star hotel I checked out of just hours earlier.
Amidst a busy week and chaotic work schedule, details of my travel plans fell through the cracks and I found myself without a room for the last night of my trip. Typically extending the reservation would be no problem, except that it was opening night of college football season in South Carolina. Vacancy resembled Bethlehem on Christmas Eve night about 2,000 years ago.
Luckily a quick Internet search located a room in the city near the airport at a great price that fit a nonprofit budget. I booked the room, relieved it wasn’t a stable with surrounding barn animals, excited to try a new place.
It only took about two minutes upon check-in for the excitement to deflate. Technically the room was tidy. But 1990s flashbacks work better on VH1 or Pandora radio stations. The aged carpet, vintage hair dryer and television weighing as much as my 3-year-old gave away the fact the establishment never prioritized renovations and upgrades.
I soon understood why this room was available despite the city-wide lack of vacancy. As I hugged my knees on the bed, hoping safety wouldn’t be an issue, I couldn’t help but think,
“What have I gotten myself into?”
And then I heard that small voice in the back of my head,
“You think you deserve better.”
Then it hit me. I’m the rich man.
Needles and Camels
I typically don’t associate myself with the wealthy – the individuals who were told it’s easier for camels to walk through needles than for them to see Heaven. I have a modest Midwestern home and download budget apps for my iPhone. The rich are those I'd bumped into at breakfast just hours earlier, those who booked the 4-star hotel without a discounted rate. Not little old me.
As I captured my thoughts I came to understand that much of my life, and most of my heart, does resemble the rich people addressed in the Bible. God provided a clean room, a soft bed, air conditioning and a roof over my head for the evening.
All I could focus on was that conditioner did not accompany the complimentary shampoo.
Focusing on my apparent sacrifice caused me to nearly miss the blessing. And then I realized that’s exactly why the Bible says it’s so difficult for the rich to inherit the Kingdom of God.
When we believe we're above or better than anyone or anything, our hearts aren't fully surrendered to Him. We miss his blessing because we've set an expectation for ourselves, oftentimes because we're rich and our wealth gets in the way. It's not unless we lay down what we think we deserve will we ever see the world the way God does - or at least a room available in a city-wide "no vacancy" the same way as our King.
Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? James 2:5
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. Mark 10:25
Our expectations, highly influenced by a Western culture, have caused so many of us to miss the blessings. Are you the rich man? What do you feel you deserve? Would you be willing to give up anything to see God? What deep beliefs are hiding out in your heart?