As a budding boy brimming with curious questions about anything and everything, the world and all its wonder was cresting the horizon of my comprehension – and driving my parents insane. Unfortunately for them, they were not the font of all knowledge. But when these prepubescent quandaries turned to Jesus, my father was relieved to point me in the direction of a book that changed my life.
It was called, How Should We Then Live? by the mid-twentieth century Christian luminary Francis Shaffer. It’s funny how we can remember the impact of a thing, but the details of why fade. What I do recall from Shaffer’s work was this takeaway – you have been blessed with eternal life, by God’s grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection, for a purpose. Your blessings come packaged with a reason.
Somehow the holidays are drawing near once again. It seems that with every passing year they come around faster and faster. And for us as disciples of Jesus, they invite us, like an old friend that you keep up with every now and then, to see and savor the blessings the Lord has given.
We have been so incredibly blessed in our church lately. This coming month we’re welcoming over 10 new members into our church family. Our youth are deepening their faith through a fun and engaging Confirmation Class process. Our facilities received an upgrade with 3 new AC Units/Furnaces, a new sound system, and new coats of paint throughout the building. And the finances of the church are healthy and transparent. By all measurable means of determination, we are blessed. But Shaffer shows us what scripture has been saying for millennia, there’s more.
As James teaches us, “Faith without works, is dead.” The same stark call to action applies to us who are blessed. If we focus on the blessings, we miss out on their purpose. Their whole reason for existence is to draw us closer to the Blessed One, and open our eyes to those in our spheres of influence that may or may not know that they are His beloved. With every sign and seal of favor that Jesus gives us, we are called in the same breath to respond, with generous and trusting hearts, to God by caring for those around us.
So I invite you to take stock of your blessings. To be fair it can be really difficult at times to see them. But when you do, if you pause just for a moment and listen to their voice, you will hear the Spirit of Christ whisper to you their purpose. You may be blessed with time. What is Jesus inviting you to wield it for? You may be blessed with grandchildren. What is the Holy Spirit inviting you to do in their lives? You may be blessed with warm clothes. What warmth and comfort is God the Father inviting you to embody?
Like that little boy I once was, you will have more questions than answers. But the questions themselves reveal deeper truths that you would have never known without first asking. So keep questioning, keep watching, and enjoy the transformation that comes from living as a blessed people. Amen.