If you catch up with me here very often, you know I can be arrested by something I read that challenges the lens I use. That happened again last week as I was reading Troy Schmidt’s new release: Fish Sandwiches: The Delight of Receiving God’s Promises. One little sentence caused me to look at an area more deeply regarding blessings.
I doubt there is anyone who isn’t hoping for blessings in nearly any and all areas of our lives. Many of us can sometimes miss the breadth of blessings we experience more days than not. Before you challenge that statement, let’s remember that the definition of the word is “God’s favor and protection.” It is a broad statement that doesn’t outline the scope of blessings.
Some of us can look often at blessings related to our financial status either because we just received a raise or bonus or we feel we want or deserve one. Financial provision is clearly a blessing and it is likely that all of us will experience at least one season where the provision will change. Job loss or change for any number of reasons or unexpected large expenses will send our budget (if we have one) hurtling to the basement.
Some of us look at the blessings related to our health. That is more true of us if we or someone dear to us has experienced a loss in his or her health or we are getting older and things don’t work quite as well as they used to.
The truth is that we are most aware of our blessings when they disappear.
We become aware of the blessing of breathing easily when a cold or sinus infection suddenly creates congestion making breathing easily something that eludes us and we long for. We become aware of the ease of movement when an accident, illness, or arthritis assaults our body.
We become aware of the blessing of relationships in our lives when there is a change with one of them. Sometimes the change is a natural expected occurrence such as children going off to college or leaving home. Sometimes the change comes from a move, a divorce, or a death.
Change in a relationship causes us to reflect on what the relationship meant to us. We may see the bad, but often we will recall the good that we took for granted as well when it is no longer there.
We become aware of the blessing of freedom when it is taken from us. That happens in war and incarceration, but it also happens when we cannot drive ourselves wherever we choose and whenever we choose or when we develop diabetes or allergies that upend the diet we enjoyed and foods we most relish. Freedom in every sense of the word and in every area is a far greater blessing than many of us truly get.
The conundrum is what we do with blessings. Are we sponges that absorb them or cups that take in and pour out?
That question usually faces us related to financial blessings when we are asked to share or give more for one cause or another, but perhaps we miss that it goes farther than that. It also isn’t just about sharing our gifts or skill sets in various ministries or community organizations (even though that is good and needed).
Blessings from the Lord are often “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3: 20-21). God is not stingy. He gives enough and more.
When He fed the 5,000+ people after Jesus had been teaching all day, they not only got enough fish and bread through the blessing and miracle of a boy’s lunch, there were also 12 baskets of leftovers. Have you ever wondered what they did with those? Maybe they passed them out to those who were poor and hadn’t been there or maybe they let people pack a few of them for the trek home.
I think Jesus wanted those on the hill that day to pass on more than the loaves and fish miracle story. He wanted them to pass on the blessing of the spiritual food that had filled them to overflowing and kept them spellbound listening for a very long time.
If I am a sponge, I only soak up more and more and more. I might forget that even a sponge has a limit and the answer is not to look for another sponge (or to build another barn as the rich man considered doing).
What am I soaking up without even a thought of pouring out?
What are you?
“Blessings are not gifts to be consumed, but resources to put to good use. Blessings do not stop with us. They continue on through us.”
I am called to be grateful of blessings and how many there are that cannot even be counted, but they aren’t supposed to stop with me (or you).
Are you a sponge or a cup?