Tag Archives: blessings

Blessings Abundant, No Matter What I Think

I’ve been a bad, bad boy with my posting around here. (Or lack thereof, I should say)

Sorry about that.

Also haven’t talked much spirituality lately. Not much of that Christ thing. Or God thing. Religion and all that.

I’m sure for some of you that’s been a breath of fresh air (*chuckle*) and others probably feel I’m slacking a bit on my faith walk since I’m not talking about it much.

But I have been thinking about blessings lately. This is a dicey topic, though. People both inside and outside the faith will zero in on talk of blessings and a often-interrelated topic called “faith.” If a person starts talking about their blessings, someone else will ask, “Well, why doesn’t God bless the poor and starving people in [insert community or nation here].” A person may talk about how their blessings are through their power of faith, and then by extension other Christians will say, “What? Are you saying my life sucks because I don’t have enough faith? Not everyone can prosper!”

And so on. And so forth. Ad infinitum.

But the fact that my life is blessed, in so many ways. When I look at it, I have no reason to complain, really. I still do, though. I think about what I don’t have instead of seeing all the things that I do possess and do receive. Do my blessings overflow my cup? Hell, no! Am I comfortable and prosperous. I wish!

But am I provided for?

Yes. Most definitely.

Over and over in my life, Mrs. Blue and I have come up on near disaster, only to have just the right amount of salvation (often in the form of unexpected money) arrive just before things reached crisis stage, or soon enough afterward to clean up the damage.

There was a point not so long ago that I wasn’t sure we’d be able to continue living in our house. Now the mortgage is paid off. Sure, the oil bills in the winter are still a bitch. Sure, we don’t have any money to fix the many things that need fixing inside this old house. But no longer does a mortgage hang over our heads; just taxes and insurance.

A couple months ago, we weren’t sure where Son of Blue would be going to college. His ACT scores were only average, thanks to horrible math scores (almost everything else was outstanding, particularly his verbal/writing/reading scores, which made the score that much more heart-wrenching). He had only applied to a few universities, a couple of which were pretty elite. Not only did he find a perfect school in the late application process, but he got some grants and scholarships. We were still concerned up until this week, because the remaining costs were still high, but now he’s got more scholarship money coming from the university, and all we have to pay for now is some $5,000 or so a year for room and board.

My wife needed a surgery that she had long put off, and Little Girl Blue needed dental work, and I still need to get an elective surgery done. None of those things would have been possible if insurance coverage hadn’t landed in our lap by a means that I can only call “the grace of God.”

I could go on and on, but I won’t.

I need only look at the terribly improbable turns of my life and know that if it’s coincidence or blind luck, then I should have hit a winning Lotto by now.

But it’s not just me.

So many people in the world are blessed, even if they don’t think so and even if we don’t think they are.

As terrible as it is that people have to live on things like a few dollars a day in pay in some nations, the fact is that they survive. If they didn’t, the population numbers would go toward extinction fast in those nations. And as hard as life might be, they still find reasons to celebrate and they still have happiness. Is life peachy? Probably not. But do they get by? Yes. And in this world, that seems to me miracle enough.

Why do hateful and horrible people prosper? I don’t know, but I have a feeling their “blessings” may in many cases be as fleeting as life itself. Why do so many good people have to scrape or endure horrors in their lives that they don’t deserve? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s so that those who can help will have someone to help. Maybe it’s supposed to be an object lesson to us how few people are truly without blessings, if we simply look at the world and its people as a whole.

If we look beyond the surface and into a wider realm. Of blessings. Of faith. Of spirituality. Of the next life (of next lives, perhaps…who knows how many stages and evolutions lie beyond this life?).

I know some of those who don’t believe in any higher power or life eternal will likely  launch into me now for not being sympathetic enough to the suffering in the world. Or they will chide me for putting my faith in something invisible; putting my hopes into some eternal life that is unproved by science.

That’s their right, if they chose to do so.

But I look at the blessings in my life, and realize how many people have blessings in their lives, too, no matter how much rougher they are even than my own life.

There is suffering in this world. There is no doubt of that. But the blessing and the evidence of God, I think, is in how little suffering and death there seems to be, compared to how much it seems like there should be.

Blessings from Somewhere

I have a weird hangup. I don’t like to talk about my blessings a lot. I appreciate them, but I feel odd talking about them.

That’s a shame, because as a Christian, I should be talking about the blessings God brings to me in the midst of struggles in this world. Because it’s sometimes through seeing our blessings that people who aren’t Christian sometimes want to learn more or may feel drawn to considering Christ.

There have been so many times that I have gotten an insight at just the right time. Or been delayed in doing something I planned to only to find that the delay allowed me to get some greater blessing I would have missed otherwise. Or the many times, particularly early in my marriage, when I would be in a huge bind with something and not enough money to handle the problem, and that would be when I would get a surprise freelance assignment or a gift or something else, almost always in an amount so close to what I needed that it seemed too coincidental to be anything but a blessing from on high.

Or the fact that my house is now paid off.

Mind you, it wasn’t more than a few months ago I was afraid I might not have a house soon. That’s how hairy finances have been.

But in the midst of a time when it is hard enough to keep the utilities on and meeting some other financial requirement is eating at my ever shrinking income, making payments on the house was becoming harder and harder. It seemed almost impossible.

And then my dad talked with someone who had an idea and helped him work some magic that got this house’s mortgage totally paid off.

There’s no reason that should have happened. Lord knows I probably don’t really deserve it. But it happened, and now all I have to worry about are taxes and insurance.

I feel weird saying this, not because I feel some sense of shame that someone else bailed me out (my heavenly father and my earthly one) but because I know so many people are struggling, just as I continue to in many ways other than the house.

People I know who are having relationship problems or terrible health woes and so much else, and I have this huge burden lifted. I feel bad in a sense feeling good about it.

But it’s a blessing, and one that I should be sharing because I truly believe it was God at work here, and I shouldn’t be shy about making that known.

Drive-By Scripture, Luke 12:42

Been so heavy on satire lately, and on my novel (including yet another installment today, which concludes chapter 4), that I figured I’d better have something spiritual right here, right now to help restore balance to the Force. Sorry, got off on a “Stars Wars” tangent there. Anyway…

And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? (Gospel of Luke, chapter 12, verse 42)

Now, this is just one tiny snippet of a much larger section. Chapter 12 in the Gospel of Luke is chock full of parables about being good stewards and good servants. I encourage you to read the whole shebang, which you can get to by clicking here.

The reason I have the passage above, and the reason it’s in the King James Version (KJV) instead of the New International Version (NIV) that’s in the links I offered, is largely because of the word “steward” used in the KJV. You hear a lot of talk about stewardship these days. “Are we being wise stewards of our planet?” being one of the big questions posed to us as we continue to consume natural resources and commercial products.

In the United States, we use oil and other forms of energy as if we’re the only people on the planet who matter and we’ve created an uber-consumeristic society that demands we keep buying new crappy shit to replace the crappy shit we had that still worked so that we can increase our credit burden and clog the landfills while we’re at it.

We aren’t being wise stewards. God gave us a precious world, and we piss on it. And then we expect him to bless us with prosperity.

I’ve seen bumper stickers that say, “If we want God to protect this country, shouldn’t we honor his Ten Commandments?” Well, if we want him to keep us from crashing and burning, shouldn’t we stop mistreating his planet, too?

Never promised you a rose garden

I’ve ranted before and will certainly rant again about how pointless it is to try to give people a hard-sell about Jesus. Because if you have to push him that hard to people, those people aren’t ready for him. But along with that particular misstep that so many Christians make, there is perhaps an even more terrible  thing done to folks in the name of conversion and salvation, because it is so very insidious: Telling them that God will fix everything.

Being born again is a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong. Even when you factor out the peace of mind that your soul is going someplace worthwhile for eternity, there is the very real comfort of being able to call upon God in times of trouble, and being able to find peace and strength in doing so.

But that doesn’t mean God is going to bail you out of all the crap life hands out.

Reading passages in the Bible about how God rewards fervent prayer and how we can ask anything in Jesus’ name and mindlessly parroting those words to non-Christians and new believers—or even to people who’ve been in Christ a while—is just wrong. Too often, people are promised a perfect rose garden, and they often get mostly thorns. And when they complain, they are told they didn’t pray enough or are praying for selfish things or that maybe they aren’t really in God’s grace and the depths of Hell still await them.

God doesn’t just go around, or send His angels out, to make sure our lives are smooth paths. No one learns much of anything or grows into maturity if their parents pay for all their problems to go away and give them endless gifts for no particular reason. The sad fact is that some people will draw the short straw in life and get a bunch of bad stuff. God may be interested in everything that we do, but He’s not a micromanager. He can and will allow events in our lives to play out, sometimes allowing bad things to happen to good people.

That’s because we live in a world that, quite frankly, we messed up. God can deliver people from their problems, but when He does, it is usually in subtle ways and usually over time, and by working through other people. Rarely is He just going to wave His hand and make your problems disappear.

And despite the fact that God is a great source of strength for us, we don’t always ask for Him to grant us that strength, and sometimes, when we do, what we’re really looking for is complete relief from our responsibilities or the pains and scars we sometimes need. He can give us relief, but that doesn’t mean He will always take away our pains. Diminish them, yes. Give us the ability not to be utterly crushed, sure. But be our panacea? No way.

The faith walk is a battlefield. We are in a war, make no mistake. And to think that a walk in faith will always be pretty is short-sighted. It’s about making the right choices and being in something for the long-term gains and the personal growth and the ability to help others.

When Christians highlight only the good stuff or when pastors preach about blessings and rewards and prosperity without regard for the realities of life, many believers are left in a bind. They have been told that God will deliver them from everything, and they assume that means He will deliver them from everything in this world, and when He doesn’t, they lose faith.

To guide someone to Christ by only painting the bright and happy picture is, frankly, deceptive. It’s not an honest way to help people find salvation. Failing to prepare people for the travails of being Christian is neglectful. You don’t adequately equip someone to put on the whole armor of God. Letting people think that no harm can come to them is madness. People die, some sicknesses drag on, jobs are lost, children become runaways, and so on and so on and so on.

The world is not always—or even often—a pretty place. That’s one of many reasons why we are not supposed to be of the world, even though we are required to be in it for some time.

We need to deal with people straight early on when they express an interest in Christ so that they don’t develop false expectations that faith always equals comfort. We need more pastors to talk about how to survive the battles now and not just how to cash in on the victory in the end.

In real life, we can strip roses of their thorns at the florist shop. We can admire the roses in gardens without having to touch them. But in life, the metaphorical roses are all around us, and they are wild and uncultivated. Christian or not, we are surrounded by gorgeous colors but also wicked briars, and we are going to be cut sometimes.