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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blessings NOT in Disguise



A few weeks ago, I shared a meme on my Facebook page. I was only half joking about it. It showed a pen-and-ink drawing of a professional-looking woman, thoughtfully expressing a sentiment I’ve shared but never before spoken outloud:  “I’m ready for some blessings that aren’t in disguise.”

I had to laugh, because from where I stand, with my very limited point of view and my very small seed of faith and my very weak and flimsy and immuno-deficient constitution, this seems like a reality. “I believe! Help my unbelief!” is what a close friend and I have referred to countless times as “the daily cry.” I do believe. I believe God is good. I believe he is always working and even when life hurts, I do believe, I do believe, (remind me that I believe it), I honestly do believe that he is blessing us even then. I just can’t see it. I can't see how it all works out. So that phrase “a blessing in disguise” doesn’t always refer to a blessing that becomes revealed as such. Some blessings may always remain a mystery.

At the points in life when ALL the blessings seem to be disguised, it can become a temptation to believe that he intends no perceivable gift in this lifetime—that it is all intended for eternity and none for now. I find that scary thinking for a Christian. As the Church, we are his Body on earth. What’s a body for? It’s the physical, visible, active presence. It's for the now. I forget, then, that just being able to see my brothers and sisters, spend time with them, encourage one another, know them through the Spirit we both share, is a blessing not in disguise. I forget that the Fruit of that same Spirit that began blossoming in me some nearly 22 years ago is a blessing not in disguise. The hardheartedness that melted away—what kind of trouble would I have caused if I had held on to that with all that life has thrown me, and returned evil for evil at every chance? It’s cringe-inducing, the thought of the escalation that might have occurred. What if we lived in a world with no forgiveness—from God or man? Don't think about it too much. It is more than we can bear.

Those are big-Spirit-issued blessings, and for those, I should remember to give thanks daily. But I also do not want to forget to give thanks in the things that seem less spiritual, daily, even common. Those blessings are still blessings. And sometimes we overlook them because they are so NOT in disguise.

Today my husband, our youngest daughter, and I will drive over four hours. We will spend a night in a hotel. The next morning, we will run from edge to edge in a field, cheering and encouraging and fretting and over a long-legged, graceful, determined, antelopine (yes, I made that word up), sparkly-eyed thirteen-year-old who has driven herself to achieve this semester the maximum her body can produce on the cross-country course. She has quoted Eric Liddell for inspiration. She has fixed her eyes on a couple of prizes along the way and achieved them. She has trained and stretched, watched her diet and nutrition, consumed once-disgusting liquids for the hydration value until she became used to the taste, sweated profusely and bathed in ice, wrapped sore joints and run with steady impact on painful ones. She has watched the shoulders that, at first, disappeared over the horizon in front of her come closer and closer until, finally, she has passed those shoulders and others ahead of them and pulled ahead herself. And she has grown. She has earned her place in tomorrow’s state-level competition.

Competing at State is an honor and a reward. But it is more than that as well. It is a blessing, and an outright, public one. The opportunity to run with this team and this coaching staff is also a blessing and I will publicly say there’s been no disguise there either. Being her parent, longing for her improvement and success, the confidence she has gained, the spirit of unity with the team she can now compete with well enough to serve them with her participation, all blessings.

Blessed means “happy,” or so I’ve read. Yes. It fits. I am blessed today, happy to be enjoying the anticipation of tomorrow. Happy in the moment of feeling “God’s pleasure,” as Eric Liddell said, in this blessing that came unwrapped and lavished luxuriously on us. I'm drowning in gratitude. Thank you, Daddy, thank you!

How are you enjoying the Giver today?

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