Well...it's that time again. I'm starting this as I drink my coffee (a good thing!) and will probably finish it later. Since I like themes (and order!), I think this week's list will be Ten Blessings God has sent my (our) way.
1. Coffee...or more specifically those little chemicals that form caffeine. This is a huge blessing; it just makes mornings easier for this non-morning (yet, non-grumpy, just-still-sleepy) person. :-)
2. People...though sometimes not perceived as blessings, even the irritating ones are accomplishing God's purpose in my life. And how else do I get to fulfill Christ's commands? Love one another, pray for one another, serve one another, esteem others more highly than yourself, be devoted to one another, honor one another, accept one another, don't pass judgment on one another, speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, etc.
3. The Holy Spirit...At church, we are studying through the book of Mark, and we keep running into the real ignorance and lack of understanding on the part of the disciples. And yet, it struck me strongly this week that without the instruction of the Holy Spirit in my heart, I would be just as ignorant and lacking in understanding as they. Probably more so. So, thank you, Lord, for teaching me through the constant presence of the Teacher and Your Truth in my heart.
4. Technology...When working correctly (and this is a BIG qualifier), technology helps shrink our world. I live more than a thousand miles from my nearest relative, (and nearly 10,000 miles from the farthest one) and yet I stay in touch on a regular basis through phone calls, email, and blogs! Even tribal missionaries can often send emails and connect to the web these days! I realize that Satan uses these things for evil, but God is using these things for good too, and I am grateful.
5. Language...While it is estimated that 80-90% of communication is non-verbal, that last 10-20% is crucial. I cannot express my deepest thoughts and the desires of my heart without words. Without words, I cannot focus my own mind well, as I do so often through organizing my thoughts here. And while all creation speaks His name and breathes His praise, the truth of salvation from sin and new life within through Jesus Christ can only be clarified through words. The Word became flesh so that we might know Him, in both the verbal and the non-.
6. Weakness...I used to think I needed to be strong. This was a problem, because I knew in my heart that I was weak...often weak beyond words and in so many ways. One grace of age is that the strength I used to try to project when I was young(er!) cannot be sustained indefinitely; I can no longer keep up the pretense of strength. I am weak. Really weak. Really insufficient. So why am I grateful? Because the weaker I know myself to be, the greater my dependence on Christ's strength in me. And that is how it should be. So...here's to weaklings!! And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. --2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (KJV)
7. The Word of God...Do I even need to flesh this one out? How about I just say, Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36, NIV)
8. Time...While time is often my enemy :-), it is also a boundary, like the beach for the ocean, that God has set for us. It allows a structure and rhythm to our days...see! I can't even describe life without speaking in time-terms like 'days'! Time is where God has placed us so that we might learn to know Him and accomplish His purposes for us. Someday, in His presence, we will live outside of time as He does. But until we have glorified bodies and glorified minds, time is a gift. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90:12, KJV)
9. Beauty...So very much of this world is corrupted by sin and this life is so often filled with pain, would it even be tolerable without the firebursts of glory He shares with us? Glimpses of His own beauty spilling out into our consciousnesses through our senses: the colors of spring flowers, the scent of a summer storm, the sound of a Bach composition, the smoothness of a baby's skin, the culinary delight of chocolate ganache over layers chocolate cake drizzled with raspberry sauce... Aren't each of these--and so much more--reflections of Him in the grimy place we call life? And isn't He beautiful?
10. Conclusions...God may not fill in all the gaps for us, but He doesn't leave us hanging on the endings. In the end, we are clean, Christ reigns, heaven really does come to earth, and our enemy is defeated! In our lives, things don't continue without end, though we may suffer for a little while. Ecclesiastes phrases this as, "This too shall pass." Even eternity will be filled with the plans God has for us, new conclusions followed by new starts, with beautiful new conclusions again. Only He Himself, His Word, and we His people will last forever, without end. And as someone who likes everything tied up with a bow, it is enough for me to know the He is the author and the finisher, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end...and the beginning again. ;-) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (I Peter 5:10-11, NIV)
Because of His Loveliness,