Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On Worshiping Blessings, not the One who Gives Them

I meant to tell you that last Sunday's sermon was delivered by one of the lay members of St. Peter's, Dan Porter (Pastor was away watching his daughter graduate magna cum laude from college, praise God). One tiny little part of Dan's message seemed like it was pointing straight at me. I think he actually got this from the book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by Harold Kushner. The point was that one must guard against worshiping blessings, rather than the One who gives the blessings. It's very easy to do. Another pitfall is mistaking blessings for the favor of God, i.e., feeling like we're pretty okay with God when we can see obvious blessings in our lives, and suspecting that we are not on his Good List when those blessings are not evident to us and everybody else. It's the health-and-wealth gospel at work.

So here is a personal example: Right now I can see God's hand all over the place in our job situation. You would not believe all the things that are working out beautifully for us. We have been granted favor with employers on both sides, with colleges, with the high school, with our bank, with our church - everywhere there is favor. It's getting so I expect everything to work out perfectly and will be surprised when some tiny thing does not go right.

So does this mean when things stop going perfectly, as eventually they must, God doesn't love me anymore, or wants to test me, or is waiting for me to learn a lesson so He can stop taking away blessings? Hardly. And does it mean God is incompetent, or uncaring, or that I've used up my quota of blessings for one month/year/decade/lifetime? Nope.

I'm not sure what to do to combat this attitude other than being extremely grateful and finding things to give thanks for all the time - and not just financial things, or health things, or job things. Lessons learned, kindnesses from a friend, mercies shown, the accomplishments of a child. Intangibles. Also blessings given to others. If I look in others' lives for blessings for which to give thanks, then I will see pretty clearly that it was nothing I did that got them blessings, it was merely that their God wanted to give them something for some reason beyond my fathoming - and possibly I will understand that the same happens in my own life.

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