Friday, September 25, 2009

Waste Your Many Blessings?

I awoke from a dream in the middle of the night. I hope I can report accurately, the wonderful discovery that dream held for me.

As with most of my dreams, it was somewhat abstract and my waking view of it doesn't seem as clear and clean as it felt as I was waking.

I can't recall any story to the dream, only a concept and how it made me feel.

The concept is that when God grants us blessings, too often we waste them by passing judgment either upon the blessing or upon ourselves and our capacity to receive them.

The illustrations I offer, are not, so far as I can remember, from the dream. I wish they could be. Still, I hope they illustrate what I somehow discovered in the dreams of the night.

So very often, the blessings of which I speak come wrapped in seemingly unpleasant packages. Once, when I was younger, I awoke and found myself unable to urinate, though I had a very, unpleasantly full bladder. After two hours of such suffering, I called in sick and determined I'd better get some medical attention before I ruptured something. On the way out the door I grabbed a book I was reading at the time, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. As waiting is part and parcel of the Emergency Room experience, I hoped to distract my self from the pain I was suffering by reading. I did have to wait. So I read. I was at the place in the story where Corrie and her sister Betsie had been imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp for hiding Jew's in their Holland home. Betsie had a Bible and read it to the women crammed in their barracks. One evening as she read, she commented on the importance of thanking God in all things and interpreted that to mean that they should be thankful for the fleas. Corrie couldn't imagine being thankful for the miserable wretched fleas! Prayerfully, she sought the ability to do so. And finally, still lacking any logical reason, she was able to express complete and heart felt gratitude for the fleas. She discovered later, that the guards molested women in other barracks, but stayed away from hers precisely because of those fleas.

I sat the book in my lap and wondered if I could be thankful for my inability of void my bursting bladder? Prayerfully, I sought that gift. Somehow, it was granted. I expressed sincere and heartfelt gratitude for yet another of life's many afflictions. I'd lived long enough to know that affliction is often a great blessing. Shortly after my prayer, I was invited into an examination room. On the way, I saw my aged friend Slim Hardy pass by on a bed bound for a room in the hospital. He'd come to the Emergency Room and they were going to keep him.

As for me, the doctor determined that my urethra was blocked by a kidney stone which had become stuck as it tried to escape my bladder. He suggested more fluids. That treatment seemed frightening as I was already miserable enough, yet the alternative was something akin to a Roto-Rooter. I chose the water method and began to drink in earnest. Soon the pressure had built to sufficient a crescendo as to force the plug on through. It was instant relief, if you get my drift.

Cured, with no collateral damage, my thoughts turned to Slim. I stepped down to his room. He wasn't conscious. His daughter Fae was sitting beside him. She asked if I'd give him a blessing. In that blessing Heavenly Father praised him for the good, fine life he'd lived and invited him to come home. Slim passed away in just a few minutes. Fae thanked me and then asked if I'd speak at his funeral; an honor I'll always cherish.

As I headed home, I glanced down at the book in my hand. I pressed The Hiding Place to my heart in profound appreciation for the gift it held for me. How thankful I was for my kidney stone. Were it not for that little obstruction, I'd have likely not even known Slim had passed away until I read his obituary in the paper, which came out the day after the funeral. I'd have been at work and oblivious to what I consider a great gift and tender mercy.

It would have been easy to judge my affliction as a curse, a punishment, an underserved annoyance. It would have been so very easy to have wasted a magnificent blessing.

I'm so grateful for this morning's reminder of that great principle. Even, in affliction, God is blessing us. Especially, if we don't judge the blessing to be a curse and God to be unkind.

Now, personally, I'm not as apt to misjudge my circumstances as I am to misjudge myself and my own capabilities. Too often, God offers me a blessing I don't feel qualified to accept. Too often I waste the blessing out of fear and apprehension. I'm not near as apt to think a blessing is not big or good enough more me; more often I think I'm not big or good enough for the blessing.

I'm wrestling with that right now and hence, perhaps, the dream. I have long, longed to be a writer. Since my unemployment I've done more of that than I've ever had time to do before. Yet, every day, I fight a battle with myself over whether I deserve such a blessing; whether I can measure up. I read other writers I admire and think I could never approach their level of performance. Time after time I find excuses to excuse myself from what my fears tell me is a foolish quest. This has been a pattern all of my life. Still, as I pray, my confidence is restored, accompanied by encouragement to carry on. I don't get to know if I'll ever be published or if my writing will ever touch anyone beyond myself. But I do get to know that a blessing is being offered me and, if I can just believe, it might not be counted to me as a waste, but a blessing.

I'm thankful this morning for the refreshed realization that I must neither pass judgment on the adequacy or desirability of God's blessings, nor on my capacity to receive them. He can make my circumstances big enough for me, but better than that He can make me big enough for my circumstances. What a blessing.

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