Tuesday, November 23, 2010

BLESSED

Happy Thanksgiving!

I truly love this particular holiday. One reason I do (and maybe not the best reason) is because it is the cause of many funny “turkey disaster” stories! I can’t think of any other meal that has caused more distress than a Thanksgiving turkey dinner! Yet each one of these memories always brings at least a smile if not huge laughter when recalled. Family and friends during this festive holiday are a formula for fond memories…and I cherish each one.

Of course…at the time my “turkey disasters” were occurring I don’t recall always smiling… and for sure I was not laughing! Isn’t it “strange” how over time these things we once saw as so “horrible” are now part of our fondest memories and biggest laughs!

I think God does this same kind of transformation of our memories with other “disasters” in our lives as well. Now…I know I will be hard pressed to express exactly what I mean by this since there are some things we experience in life that I would not appreciate being compared to some light-hearted Thanksgiving Day meal disaster story. But, having experienced some very tragic moments in my life…I feel compelled to share how God has “changed” my way of thinking about some things that might only be considered as “tragic” into a remembrance of God’s abundant provisions and yes…even blessing.

Several years ago my dad died unexpectedly and suddenly as we were sitting and talking together three days after Christmas. At the time I thought, Christmas will never again hold good memories for me. I felt that along with my dad…the joy of celebrating Christmas had died too.

Earlier that year I had renewed my commitment to Christ and this tragedy left me feeling bewildered. I was expecting “blessings” as I turned my life over to Christ…certainly not “disasters”…that’s for sure! I thought God’s timing couldn’t have been worse.

The days and weeks that followed his death were filled with pain …but I can tell you as I look back I clearly see God’s hand was upon me every moment of those sorrowful days. I had my husband’s love for me along with his tears as he comforted me. I had a fabulous new church family that went above and beyond supporting me with their prayers and friendship…helping me to spiritually grow and to accept love from my new brothers and sisters in Christ that I hardly knew… as they reflected the heart, hands and feet of Christ to me.

And than in God’s perfect timing…a few short weeks as I returned to work…godly words of wisdom were poured over my wounds. In response to hearing my tearful reply to a question about “how my Christmas was”, a friend told me, “how blessed I was” to have been with my dad... and that I had been there for my mom too.

“Blessed? Are you kidding me? How in the world can you say I have been blessed I asked?”

So he explained…

I was blessed because it had been 5 years since my entire family had been together for Christmas and I had been given this Christmas to spend with my dad. I was blessed to have risen early that morning…especially that morning… along with my husband, as the three of us spent the morning laughing and talking together. I was blessed to know my dad did not suffer when he died. I was blessed to be there for my mom…she was not alone. I was blessed to be there to hold her.

After he said all of this to me…the picture I held in my mind concerning all that had happened that day changed drastically. Instead of seeing only “tragedy” I saw God’s mercy and grace in it. I also saw the unique way the Lord blesses those He loves.

Ok… so now perhaps you are wondering, “Kathy, really? Are you going to tell me you can honestly look back on that day and no longer see your dad’s death as ‘disastrous’ but instead as something God is able to reveal blessings in?” My answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Seeing the blessings does not remove my desire to have my dad with me still.
Seeing the blessings doesn’t remove my heartache and longing to see him again soon.
Seeing the blessings doesn’t mean I didn’t love my dad with all my heart.
Seeing the blessings allows me to fall fully into God’s Hands… allowing His strength to be mine…His comfort to calm my sorrow…His promises to be the place I put my trust in…and His faithfulness the only sure way to restore my hope and joy.

Now whenever I recall that Christmas many years ago and “that day” my dad died… my thoughts and memories do not lie “stuck” on my dad’s last moment. I am blessed instead to recall that morning with some pretty funny memories of being with my dad and Brad as we joked around and laughed so hard it brought tears to our eyes. When my memories do roll around to that “disastrous moment”…my thoughts by God’s grace… goes to how blessed I am to have been with my dad and the blessings of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness to me and my family.

So maybe now you can understand a bit better how I am able to say God is able to transform our “disasters” into memories that allow us to remember “the good stuff” and maybe even put a smile on our face as the Lord reveals the blessing.

God is our strength and shield. He'll either shield us from trouble, or strengthen us in it. Our futures belong to Him, and all our days have been ordained for us. The one who holds the future also holds us tightly in His hands. We can look forward with thankfulness.

Tomorrow is full of God's grace, so we can be thankful today!


Matthew 5
The Beatitudes

(Quoted from the NIV Life Application Bible) “Each beatitude tells how to be blessed. ‘Blessed’ means more than happiness, it implies the fortunate or enviable state of those who are in God’s kingdom. The Beatitudes don’t promise laughter, pleasure, or earthy prosperity. To Jesus, ‘blessed’ means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus no matter the cost.”

1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessedare those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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