God’s gifts are blessing to youPublished 2:17pm Monday, December 5, 2011
As a young child I can remember each year at Christmas my Granddaddy’s sister would give all of her great nieces and nephews a gift for Christmas.
I must admit, with much shame, that I never appreciated these gifts when I was in high school. Every year I would get a bowl, or a pair of socks, or a dish towel.
I never could figure out a need for these gifts and I would pass the bowl or dish towel to my Mama.
As a young married woman my thoughts about these yearly gifts changed in a dramatic way. In fact, I was so changed in the way I viewed these gifts that I had a deep desire to have back every bowl, sock, and dishtowel that I have ever taken for granted.
I had the privilege, and yes it was an awesome privilege, of carrying my great aunt to do her Christmas shopping. I cannot describe to you the joy on her face as she went through her shopping list and was able to find gifts for everyone.
A pack of socks that could be divided among her great nieces and nephews, a bowl that would be just perfect for someone, and of course that cute little dishtowel that reminded her so much of another great niece or nephew. It was incredible to see her shopping. She had a very limited income and she had saved during the year so that she could shop at Christmas. It was a joy for her to be able to shop for the people she loved.
The day I was shopping with my aunt made me realize that I never appreciated the gift until I saw the joy that motivated the giving. As we are in the season of Thanksgiving and we think about the blessings we have been given with over the past year, I have to wonder if we truly understand them or the giver of the blessing.
I have realized that I have used the word “blessed” in so many ways that maybe it has lost its meaning for me. I want to get that meaning back.
I want to get that meaning back in the same way the bowl and dish towel had meaning for me; which brings me to realize that if I want to truly understand blessing, I need to be in relationship with the One who truly blesses.
What validates something as a blessing? Does it have to have material value – a big fat bank account, a large home, a new car, more clothes in the closet than we will ever wear? Or can blessings be validated by the love of family and friends?
For me, validation comes from knowing and being in relationship to Christ. This past year has been a year filled with many sorrows and many joys. I have witnessed too many friends say goodbye to loved ones due to illness; I have sat with families as they waited for a loved one to return from surgery; I have prayed for and with couples who have grieved over the death of a marriage. Many sorrows have been witnessed this year.
However, in each sorrow I have witnessed joy. I have witnessed God’s presence and the sustaining power of this presence in the middle of grief and despair. I have watched marriages begin to heal and people grow in relationship and commitment to Christ through trials.
You may not think this is a blessing, but trust me it is. Spend time in Matthew 5 reading “The Beautitudes”.
3”You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4”You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5”You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of
everything that can’t be bought.
6”You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7”You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8”You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9”You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10”You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12”Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me.
What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. (The Message).
We are not blessed because we have things or because everything is going just the way we want. True blessing comes through true relationship; relationship with Jesus Christ. The realization that we can be content knowing that God’s promise to never leave nor forsake us is real. The realization that God loves us so much that He gave His only Son that you and I might have eternal life is where we will see true blessing.
May you experience the peace and the grace that comes through knowing and loving Jesus Christ. This promise is a reality for everyone, not just the people who think they have it all together, but especially for those of us who know for sure that we don’t have it all together. “8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8).
Rev. Diane Everette
- Bethel United Methodist Church
- McRae Street United Methodist Church