Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Reason for Blessing

I ran across this photo and I remembered something that a very old woman once taught me. Her name was Kate Fletcher. She walked everywhere she went, despite the ill fitting prosthetic leg, sometime even turning down rides because of the difficulty getting out of vehicles. When I knew her she was in her 80's.

Sister Fletcher was a member of my church and seemed to appear in my life at a time when I needed a counselor. I was 18, newly married with no mother. She was a woman of great faith and wisdom and more than once I sought her counsel. She never failed. More than once I showed up at her home after midnight and she was actually at the door looking out. On one occasion she said, "The Lord told me someone was coming but not who."  Another time she said, "I was waiting for you."

When I found this clip I remembered a time when I was searching for something and I went to her home. She prayed for me and she told me, "God will not give anyone more blessings than they can handled." It was an unusual and surprising concept to me.  

God's blessings are unreserved in depth and scope. We have only to be faithful and obedient to our calling. But they are not endless and they are not without limit.

Parent's reward their children based on how they behave. Yes, you do. Good behavior reaps good rewards. Bad behavior, if you are a good parent, reaps negative rewards. You wouldn't give a child a ice cream cone for slapping a parent or screaming at your guest. Well, maybe some people would but they end up with odious children.

As your child grows, the rewards become more advanced. Good grades may get better and better rewards. Allowances increase based on performance but bad performance, bad grades reduce the rewards. You bless them according to how they preform. You may do other things for them for no reason other than because you love them but there are blessing you give only because of what they do.

You may bless your teenager with an inexpensive car to do their running on but repeated traffic violation result in the loss of that blessing. They simply can't handle the responsibility of obeying traffic laws. You take the car and they take the bus. I've been here. The rule was your car, your fine. And they paid them. That is not a blessing. That is a penalty for not being responsible.

You may help your adult children with the down payment on a new home, if you have been blessed with the money to do that. They neglect to make the payments and they lose that home. They were not able to take on the responsibility of maintaining a home.

God blesses only according to what we are able to be responsible for maintaining. The concept she introduced me to that day has gotten me through some terrible times. The more I am responsible and the longer I am faithful, the greater the blessings become. There are times I've been overwhelmed at what I have been given for no apparent reason. I am not blessed because I'm smarter or better than anyone else. I am blessed because God has trusted me with some things that even I didn't think I could handle. I don't always think I deserve things He has given me but it isn't what I think that matters. It is what He thinks. And the knowledge that He thought I could handle something is in itself a blessing and and overwhelming concept. Some days I'm literally stunned by it.

I know people who seem to constantly be down on their luck. They can't get a break. Everything they do fails. All efforts to "get ahead" set them further and further behind. Nothing they set their hand to prospers. If you talked to them, they just don't understand.

In every case I've seen of people I know personally, I see the same thing over and over. Their walk with God had faltered in some fashion or ended. Their attitude, their behavior has become negative and in some cases, they are obviously not living as they know they should. They have gone farther and farther away from what they believed and become almost hostile. The blessings that once seemed to flow in are now flowing out. But all they see is the falling tide, and the absence of things. The don't see the cause.

Like a child they see everything that happens as unfair or someone else's fault. When a marriage gets in trouble, they need a new partner. Things would be better if I had a better spouse. When finances fail, it is the other spouse's spending that caused it. Or it is the other person's fault they lost the job. When children are unmanageable, it is the schools, friends, or other relatives fault. Like all children, we refuse to look in the mirror and see that we are the reason that we are blessed or not blessed. Instead we clench our fist, stomp our feet and scream, "IT IS NOT MY FAULT! I am a good person. I love God. I...... I..... I....."

My life is miserable. You heard me. I have pain so much that there are times I just want to die. Really. I don't say that much because the devil has a way of using our words to beat us up. In my mind, I know I don't want to die but I want the pain to stop. Some days I can hardly walk. My legs won't work, my feet hurt, my back is in agony. I have family that I can see are not being blessed and I am struggling with watching them fall farther and farther away and deeper and deeper into trouble. They don't even see what is happening. They can't see the chasm that is looming at their feet. I spend days praying for something to wake them up. I lost my husband and best friend and I have no one to talk to and no one to turn to when I'm in pain and suffering heartaches. I spend hours in my home and no one calls or comes by. Yes, I attend a church. And no, they don't.

So, how could I see any good in all that? What can make up for the losses? Ah. I see things that no one else sees that I know are blessings that I can't possibly have deserved. They wouldn't mean a thing to others but they are enormous reminders that I am not forgotten by God. Yes, sometimes it seems like it but I know I'm not. I'm not a bestselling author but I've been blessed with enough talent to bless others with my writing.  My husband was taken from me, and nothing can replace that, but because of his service and his faithfulness I have other benefits I wouldn't have had if he had not done some of the things he did over the years. He took care of his family, was faithful to us and God and provided for us even when he was dying. He told me once that he believe his disability was a blessing from God and he never asked God to heal him. That disability resulted in his death. What he suffered resulted in my blessing and in my ability to bless others. I've been blessed with a job that allows me to meet my needs and provides me with health insurance. I'm not wealthy, far from it. Yet, I've been blessed enough to bless my church and my children. The lack of local friends resulted in a circle of online friends who I talk to several times a week. They make me laugh, encourage me, share their lives with me, and some of them pray for me. Those who don't pray, I know they wish me well. You see, all the places in my life that hurt have had a blessing added to it.

I don't know why but for some reason, I've been trusted with these things, the good and the bad. My life is usually chaos and I'm stressed and wounded and heartbroken. But in the middle of chaos there is the eye of the storm that I strive live in. Sometimes the storm overtakes me. I'm overwhelmed by it but I have to keep moving in the right direction to find the eye again. I can't stop the storm. I can only stay in the eye.

Sister Fletcher was right. God won't bless anyone with any thing greater than they can handle. It isn't good for us. What does that mean?  Some blessings become our destruction. How many people have you seen on the news with millions of dollars and they commit suicide? They had everything but were not happy with the blessings. Why? Yes, I know mental illness is the explanation for everything. Its convenient. But it isn't always true. Sometime they get lost in the storm. How many divorced couples have you seen who were even more miserable afterward? How many people have you seen who left a good job for a better one only to find they hated it? How many people have you had to listen complain about all their troubles and you're wondering what's wrong with them because they have everything anyone could need? You know you have!

Like all children, we choose our blessings and we choose our curses. You won't necessarily see it that way. That's unfortunate. If once you could see the flow of blessings as something significant, it would change your whole outlook on events in your life. If you can just connect the dots you can see the whole picture. It isn't the blessing that is important. It is the reason for the blessing that is so important. 

I'm blessed, not because I think I deserve it, because He thought so. 

How much can God trust you?