Monday, August 12, 2013

Abundant Blessings

They say the Lord works in mysterious ways.  Amen, my friends.  Amen. 

Do you ever catch yourself going out to bless the world with your generosity, your goodness, or overall abundance, and then God just pulls a bait-and-switch on you?  It's like He's watching your good intentions and sees you getting dangerously close to self-righteousness, so he turns the tables and blesses the world in a completely different way than you had imagined.  Better than you had imagined. 

Our church has partnered with FaithWorks, a local agency working to get people back on their feet while recovering from homelessness, drug abuse, domestic violence or all of the above.  We were asked to do a House Blessing this weekend for a new family moving into the transitional housing apartments.  Sure, I thought.  No problem. 

Well, it turns out our priest was not available to help out this weekend.  Ditto on our two retired priests that have made our church their home.  So, my husband and I were left in charge to bless the house of this family.    I have attended exactly one House Blessing in my lifetime, so I'm certainly no expert.  I relied heavily on Google, scripture suggestions from a wise pastor I know, and a little bit of "Luck o' the Irish."  Turns out you can combine Bible readings, prayer and Irish house blessing poems quite nicely.  (Maybe it worked out better that there was no official clergy present...)

As our family drove to the House Blessing on Saturday morning, my husband and I discussed the fact that it felt a bit awkward.  We had never even met the family.  Would they welcome a group of church do-gooders invading their home to offer donated food and a little prayer over their humble accommodations? 

Well, it turns out they did welcome us.  And, as fate would have it, they may have blessed us more than we blessed them.  As we waited in the living room for our Blessing crew to arrive, the father of the family shared his story with us.  We listened intently as this man, practically a stranger, discussed his fall into addiction over 25 years ago.  Without flinching he told us about the moment he was asked to sign papers to put his infant son up for adoption, and how he begged God for the chance to raise his son.  He proudly showed us his bicycle, equipped with a toddler ride-along seat, that transports him to AA meetings twice each week. 

Shamelessly he shared with us his real-life story of hope, love, courage and faith. 

All we had to offer were a few prayers. 

Let me tell you, we went there ready to offer some Christian love.  We were prepared to bring a message of hope.  Turns out we received more than we bargained for.  We got a reminder that life is full of struggle, and the struggles of our own life often pale in comparison to those of our neighbor.  Sharing feels good, and you don't have to be rich to share.  Everyone has a gift to share with the world.  Some are packaged more fancily than others, but the value of each is immeasurable. 

Coming face to face with a neighbor in need may be scary.  It's generally a little uncomfortable. We could have opted to donate some furniture to the apartment and been done with it.  But we steered clear of the path of least resistance.  We took a gamble on offering a simple House Blessing, and were blessed abundantly in return.  I only hope our presence, our prayers and our simple gesture of support will uplift this family as they have uplifted us. 

God is blessing this world daily, in ways that just might surprise you. 

Jeremiah 29:11-13
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the
Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

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