Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Counting one by one

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. (Eric Hoffer) There is an old hymn of the church whose words echo: "When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done." (Johnson Oatman, Jr.) If you have never heard the hymn, or it has been a very long time since you sang it, there is benefit in a little "refresher" on the words! The final stanza says much: "So, amid the conflict whether great or small, Do not be disheartened, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end."

The godly are showered with blessings... (Proverbs 10:6a NLT)

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:3-6 NLT)

It isn't that God is "going to" bless us, it is that he has already showered us with his blessings! Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms is given to us already simply because we are joined with Christ through grace. Considering that for just a moment, there is nothing any of us needs that isn't already provided. I didn't say that we have all we want, because our "want" is often a little "overboard" on occasion. We can "want" a whole lot of things, but some of what we "want" will actually do us more harm in the end if we were to obtain everything we wanted! God is interested in meeting our needs - in "showering" us with the blessings of heaven - through Christ Jesus. That means we cannot experience these same blessings if we are not joined with Christ - they are "conditioned" upon that union!

As Hoffer said, the hardest "math" to learn is this "arithmetic" of actually "summing" or "counting" our blessings. For me, these blessings begin with my redemption, but in God's eyes, even my existence or "birth" is a blessing. The fact that I have experienced "new birth" is a double-blessing! What are your blessings? In rather short order, you might begin to compile a list of the "things" you see before you - a nice home, reliable automobile, good job. Then you might gravitate to the people God has placed in your life and list them as "significant" blessings. Eventually, your list ends, doesn't it? You are all "counted out", so to speak. Yet, you have neglected to account for some very significant blessings you didn't even know you had been a recipient of such as the time God's hand diverted that speeding driver from clipping your car, or the many times you just breathed a moment or two between the hectic rush of life.

We take for granted so many of our blessings. We recount a few, at best, but often overlook those that didn't rise to the level of "memorable moments" forever trapped in the recesses of our minds. The birth of our children, the day we walked the aisle to receive our diploma, or the time we were snatched away from the edge of the cliff just before falling into some temptation, these are easily remembered. I sometimes quip with my BFF about my "rememberer" being a little broken. My memory (and yours) traps away so much, but when asked to recount what is in there, it can sometimes be difficult. God wants us to take inventory of his blessings to us quite often - so we form memories of his grace and provision. The more we consider his grace, the more we develop a sense of gratitude and gratitude sends the evils of discontent packing! Just sayin!