Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Unmixed Blessings

"The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, 
and he addeth no sorrow with it."
Proverbs 10:22

When I was expecting Zachary
and having complications,
God gave me this verse.

Out of the blue one day.
He just gave it to me.
Up to that point,
I couldn't remember having ever read it.
But, from that day on,
I claimed it as mine,
and I have stood on it ever since.

After a very tumultuous pregnancy,
including the crushing blow of losing Dad at the very early part,
God brought us...
and Zachary...
through to a healthy conclusion.

I couldn't have been more thankful.

When God gives a blessing,
it is not mixed.

It is pure blessing.

He doesn't add sorrow with it.
It is not bittersweet.
It is all good.

A lot of good things in this life are only partially good.
Obtaining or maintaining them requires giving up something....
sometimes something cherished.
Or sometimes they appear good...
on the surface...
but not so good...
after we delve into them
and read the fine print.
Not so with a blessing from the Lord.

He gives good and perfect gifts.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, 
and cometh down from the Father of lights, 
with whom is no variableness, 
neither shadow of turning."
James 1:17

There are no ulterior motives behind a gift from God.
He doesn't bribe.
He loves to see us blessed
and to watch our joy
as we recognize something He has done especially for us.

When God does something,
He does it right.
He does nothing halfway.
When He blesses,
it is all blessing.

Over the past two months,
God has shown His power and love to us
in almost unbelievable, truly amazing ways.
Completely unexpected blessings...
that we didn't ask for.
To tell you the truth,
I would never have even thought to ask...
for blessings such as the ones He has carefully planned and so graciously bestowed...
all on His own...
without us even asking.

I hesitate to speak of it....
for peril of sounding boastful.
So, let me set this straight...
my boasting is all about GOD...
and what He can do...
and what He has done.
I want GOD to be magnified,
and lifted up.

He is worthy.
He alone.

"My soul shall make her boast in the LORD:
the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad."
Psalm 34:2

2 Corinthians 10:17 says,
"But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
"As the Scriptures say,
"If you want to boast,
boast only about the LORD."
"But he who boasts,
let him boast in THE LORD JEHOVAH."
(Aramaic Bible in plain English)

One day...
out of the blue....
God gave Kevin a miraculous gift.
His boss called him into his office
with an amazing offer.
Totally unexpected.
Beyond anything I would have even thought to pray for.

We couldn't figure it out.
We felt so humbled....
so unworthy...
so loved and embraced...
 by our Heavenly Father.

Around the same time,
we got a letter in the mail
with news that seemed beyond too good to be true.
Another unbelievable offer.
I kept reading the paperwork...
over and over.
Searching for the catch.
Trying to find a glitch.
Looking for an "aha,-so-it-isn't-all-it's-cracked-up-to-be" flaw.

I never could find it.
I picked up the phone to call the sender.
A pleasant voice answered
and reaffirmed the details I had read about in the letter.

"I just don't understand why you would just decide to do this",
I questioned.

"Because, we are rewarding faithful customers."
She explained.

That's it?"
Skeptical me.
Always wary.
Slow to believe.

"That's it."
She responded.

"But, there must be a catch.
Isn't there?
What's the catch?"
I still couldn't believe my ears.

"Everyone thinks that.
But, there is no catch.
We just want to do this."
Bless her heart,
I am sure I was trying her patience.

She remained pleasant.

Kevin and I talked it over....repeatedly....
re-read the papers....
kept trying to find some loophole....
that would confirm our 
"I-knew-it-had-to-be-too-good-to-be-true" mentality.
Surely, this had to be a mixed blessing.
People don't just cut you a break...
especially in this day of greed...
do they?
It isn't normal for them to reward faithfulness in this manner, 
is it?

I called back again and another rep told me the same exact thing.
Then another.
And another.

I must seem very dense to God.
My inability to simply believe His Word and accept His gifts...
must come very close
to exhausting even His patience.
I imagine if Jesus were here,
walking among us,
He would often turn my way,
with frustration in His eyes,
and say,
"O, ye of little faith!"

Finally, the truth sunk in.
The light came on.
God was sending us two big,
very appreciated,
very welcome,
very undeserved...

There was no sorrow added...
to either one of them.
Just pure blessing.
Only God could do what has been done.

I was over-analyzing them,
trying to find a flaw,
searching for a reason
to call them mixed blessings.
No reason existed.

God's blessings are never mixed.
They are good and perfect gifts.

Do we deserve them?
Definitely not.
But, He gives them just the same.

I think sometimes our feelings of unworthiness
prevent us from fully enjoying God's blessings...
or even accepting them.

We don't understand why He loves us.
We focus on our failures and issues,
and we talk ourselves right out of believing
that God wants our lives to be blessed.

Jesus said,
"I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly."
John 10:10

Who are the "they" Jesus is speaking of?
It is you, my friend....and me....
and all who believe He will do what He said He will do.

Have you ever tried to do something for someone
who didn't feel worthy for you to do it?
Or tried to give a gift to someone who
was hesitant to take it?
Maybe you had feverishly planned and poured your all into making it special,
invested a lot of time, thought, and effort,
given it all you had,
to show your love to them...
only to have it refused and rejected.

How did it make you feel?

Imagine how our Creator must feel
when we hesitate to take His gifts and blessings?
When we try to uncover some hidden "sorrow" in them?
When we pick them apart and talk ourselves into believing they are mixed?
When we refuse to accept what He has to offer?

God has gone to great lengths to enrich and enhance the lives of His trusting children.
He has so much for each one of us.
His storehouses are filled to overflowing...
many of them have yet to be tapped into.

After He convinced me that what He was offering was real...
that it was pure, untainted, unmixed blessings...
that He did it, not because we asked Him to,
but because He wanted to...
that it pleased Him to see us blessed....
I was overwhelmed to tears,
turned to Zachary and said,
"Zach, God really does love us."

Of course God loves us.
Are you just now figuring that out?"

He found my statement absurd.

I guess when you have been in the valley for so long,
you can reach a point of feeling God-forsaken.
Of course, we never are.
I knew that...
But, being bathed in the overpowering realization
that God worked out two very humanly-impossible
situations for us...
without us even asking....
made me understand a new depth of God's love.
A new appreciation for His providential, Father's care.
It reaffirmed His promises to us in the most profound of ways.

Romans 13:7 instructs us to,
" Render therefore to all their dues:
tribute to whom tribute is due;
 custom to whom custom;
fear to whom fear;
honour to whom honour."

I want to honor my precious, precious friend, Priscilla.
She's earned it.
It is due.

Honestly, there is no one on earth who could be more true....
more faithful...
more genuine.
She has walked with us through so many things.
She isn't one of those people who cares from a distance...
or holds you at arm's length...
not really wanting to get involved...
or be inconvenienced.
She is one of my most faithful prayer partners.
She enters into our burdens with an intensity that is extremely rare.
She takes our concerns, problems, and heartaches,
 and she makes them hers...
no matter what the cost...
to her, personally.
She made a great sacrifice to stand by my side
the day my dear mother was laid to rest.
Having her there was such a comfort.
She and Mom were very close.
She faithfully called Mom...
and filled many of her lonely hours...
with loving, encouraging conversation.
I could never begin to say how much I appreciate her.
There are no words.
She is, as we speak, entering into a fast with me
concerning some special burdens and needs.
This isn't the first time she has given up food
to intercede to God on behalf of one of our burdens.
Where do you find a saint of God like that?
She emails almost every, single day...
she has missed very few days since Mom died...
always faithful, always caring, always concerned.
The love of Jesus is all over her.
It shines through her in everything she does.
She is loyal to the core.
She is there for us...
no matter what.

In the past few days,
she and I have been comparing God's relationship to us,
to the relationship parents have with their children.
She reminded me that God wants to do good things for us
just like we want to do good things for our children.
God hates to see us suffer,
just like we hate to see our children suffer.
God wants to see us blessed,
just like we want to bless our children.
It gives God great pleasure to pour out His riches upon us...
physically, financially, emotionally, and especially spiritually.

Listening to what she has been telling me makes me see
that God did what He has done in our lives
because He wanted to.
He absolutely wanted to bestow...
unmixed blessings.
He is faithful to send them...
in gentle streams.

As the realization of the magnitude of these special miracles
settles over me,
all I can think of is Ephesians 3:20.

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above
all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us..."

Exceeding abundantly above...
all that we ask or even think!

Is there something God has been trying to give to you...
or do for you...
that you are hesitant to accept?
Afraid it might have hidden contingency clauses?
Concerned it is being given with ulterior motives?

Maybe it is a person.
Someone God has placed in your life.
Perhaps it is His will for you to accept them...
for who they are....
and stop over-analyzing the gift and blessing they could be to you...
if only you would open your heart and let them.

Or maybe it is an opportunity...
a new job...
an untested path....
an area of ministry....
an unexplored adventure.
Perhaps God keeps giving you subtle nudges...
gentle urges...
in the direction of the opportunity.
It could be the fulfillment of His greatest dreams for you,
if only you would peel off that first layer...
of the gift God is trying so hard to convince you to unwrap.

His blessings are not mixed.
There is no sorrow added...
to any single one of them.
He gives them with the purest of intentions.

Because God wraps all of His blessings and gifts...
with love.

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