Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Improved Look at Blessings--the Best Kind

I remember a number of years ago, belonging to a home fellowship group. We were discussing how God provides for us, and one woman said how it was true...we have our homes, our cars; our kids have their educations. She reminded me in her satisfaction a little of (excuse me here) Winnie the Pooh smacking his lips after he'd had some honey. I couldn't help but point out that the provision God gives is just as true for the believer in a little hut in Africa. She got a confused look on her face, but her husband nodded and said, yes, that was right, the believer in the little hut is provided for by our God as well; he has just as much reason to rejoice in Him.
I think it was just yesterday I blogged, counting my blessings, trying to bring myself out of a funk of sorts. This morning I realized it probably sounds more like bragging if anyone lacks some of them, and for that I am sorry. And to tell the truth, it didn't really help that much in the long run. I have to admit, it was a fairly shallow list and I had an "epiphany" moment today regarding what was wrong with it. Do I find lasting joy in my house, car, food...? That's ridiculous! I realize it's not wrong to focus on how God has blessed me, but most of the things that came up as blessings, while they are blessings, aren't the ones that assure me joy in Christ.
What do I have in common with the believer in a little hut in Africa? These are the things that should assure me of eternal joy, infinite joy!
1. I have the assurance of my salvation! Not all believers believe this, and I think that's tragic. If I walked away from the faith, I would not have had a real understanding of all that God has done for me. His love restrains me from such an awful error.
2. I have a heavenly Father! Not having an earthly father makes this all the more precious. Not only that, He's perfect, and always ready to hear me and help me. And He has infinite love, incomprehensible, unconditional and unearned love for His children. He promises also to provide for His own, and this covers the material, spiritual, emotional...all aspects of life.
3. I have the indwelling Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit has been given to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. He illuminates the truth; He gives wisdom and discernment; He helps us to know God's will for us. He helps us in prayer when we don't know how to pray, what to pray for. He comes alongside us and helps us in more ways than we probably know.
4. I have an incredible, enormous family of believers! My own family of origin isn't close, and God has more or less supplanted that one with the family of Christ, every one of them accountable to God; they should be able and inclined to show love and forgiveness and acceptance, and I in return should as well. This makes relationships workable and pleasant almost all the time. There are members of this family most anywhere I should go; most of them, I've never met yet, though I will someday in heaven. They are my family through all eternity!
5. I have hope of heaven! This is more a certainty than a vague notion that something might or might not happen. His Word assures me, and His Holy Spirit assures me. Heaven is to be greatly desired because it's, well, heavenly--pleasant and perfect; Jesus and all His own will be there; and when you consider that eternal torment in hell is the only other option, it's all the better.
6. I have been renewed! I am a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come! Praise God for that. I realized this week how it wasn't that long ago that I used to find delight not in eternal hopes but in winning conflicts and arguments, in things that trip up and bring down others. Now, instead, those things trouble me, perhaps more than they should, but at least I'm not embracing them any more, and I'm glad for that. It isn't something I've done, but something God has slowly shifted into a better perspective.
7. I have everything pertaining to life and godliness! If I'm not living according to that, it's my own fault. It's an amazing concept, but the Bible promises it to be true.
8. I have more promises in Christ than I can list here! Books that try to list the promises we have in Christ are a dime a dozen...they're everywhere, and all of them, though they have a good premise, are insufficient in that the Bible context can make them much more meaningful and understandable and our application of them more accurate. But these books do show one thing, and that's how there are a great many promises.

So there you have my improved list. This list of blessings, like the Bible promise books, is incomplete to say the least! (Still, how much more could a person want?) But it has a more accurate, more useful focus regarding where my eternal hope and joy are and how they help me. I think this list should help me more not be so funky. Ha. I hope it helps you too!


Shani said...

You know, I have noticed a type of character in Khaled Hosseini's two books, and in many other novels, that I really like. It's the character who is so wise himself, but he pays attention to what the other person is saying to him as if he is being given the highest honor. I like how you're that way in conversations, Mrs. A., not simply letting them go in and out of small talk. I bet God has used that inclination to truth for the benefit of many other people besides your lady friend from church.
This post seems to echo what my class just finished learning from I Peter! Wowie! The believers he wrote to must have been so scared and confused as to why they had to leave their homes; was it as punishment for some sin they didn't know about? And Peter keeps repeating to them that life under God's true grace looks different than what the world is looking for. I'm so glad Christ gave up so much for me - and won - so I can get through any future hardship still declaring His glory and depending on Him for strength.

NeverAlone said...

Shani, you make my tactless directness sound so virtuous...I don't think the woman there appreciated it so much, and I realize my own social ineptitude. Still, I mentioned it because I had considered our earthly blessings in the same way myself a couple of blogs ago!
I haven't read Hosseini's books, but you have sparked my curiosity now. I did just look him up on Wikipedia to get a snapshot idea of his work. Intriguing!
Your mention of 1 Peter brought to mind a favorite verse from 2 Peter, 1:3: "His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." That kind of sums up what I was trying to say in my blog, wouldn't you say?
I'm so thankful for your unflagging enthusiasm in all you are doing! And thankful that God continues to provide and fuel it. It is enormously encouraging!