It's been a long day today, not without sorrow but filled with blessings, as well. Even such days as this bring with them blessings if we'll only look at the day rightly and acknowledge the good that balances the bad in this world, the joy that balances fear, the light that balances the dark. That is one of the rules of this world God created. There is always ORDER and that means there is always BALANCE.
Why my day was difficult is not mine to tell about, but some few of you who are dear friends do know, so allow me to say very sincerely, Thank you. You blessed me mightily with your readiness to go into prayer when I sent you the message and you blessed me with your thoughtful messages and checking in and later in heartfelt consolations. I feel a deep sense of peace and I felt it in the prayer recipient's messages today, as well. We are not certain of the outcome, but we know how it appears at present and we are okay with whatever it turns out to be.
This whole business has put me in mind of several things, because I am mightily blessed by you all, and because I've been in blogland which led me to read a blog post about a blessing and then another on another blog and it made me think long and hard. So I'm going to ramble a bit but there is a point if you'll stick with me.
A pastor we were under preached a series on tithing and personal finances. It was his desire to see the attendees of his church released from the burden of debt, to be released from the burden of loathsome jobs and stresses. It was during this series of sermons that God deeply impressed me to share my story of financial infidelity in our marriage and to urge others to 'come clean' with their partners.
Hard! Gracious I'd felt sick with the idea of what I was asked to do. I'd hidden it from all but John, who'd found me out, thank goodness!, and led me right back to the straight and narrow. Oh I was ashamed of that part of our marriage story and didn't really want anyone to know all about it but again, God laid it on my heart to share it. There were several visitors there that morning and so I had the 'joy' (oh so not joy!) of sharing my story with not only church family but complete strangers. My knees shook and my voice wobbled but I shared how I'd been essentially stealing our money and how it affected our tithing and giving. The truth was/is that in tithing and giving both partners have to be in agreement and if one is in sin the couple suffers and their finances suffer.
When it was all said, I sat down and breathed a sigh of huge relief. After service no one really spoke to me but that was okay. I was all about slipping out as quickly as possible that day. As it happened, one of those strangers seemed equally keen to get out of church and he was parked right behind our car. He was a chaplain and he stopped and thanked me for giving my testimony. I told him how very difficult it had been and assured him had I not felt God urging me I'd never have spoken up. At that point he shook my hand, thanked me for following God's leading, and in doing so passed to me some folded money. I was shocked and looked down. I was a little embarrassed, too, but just as I started to beg him to take it back, I plainly heard "Do NOT rob this man of his blessing." I hoarsely thanked him. He smiled broadly and went on his way. It wasn't until we were well down the road that I told John what had happened, right down to that deep impression that I'd 'heard' not to rob this man of his blessing. I unfolded the money and found I had a $100 bill in my hand.
Mind you this was no 'accident'. Just the Friday before we'd been in the bank and we'd been told of a new Certificate of Deposit the bank offered. It required $100 to start and then a small monthly amount to keep it 'fed' with no penalty for withdrawals. It was an interest bearing account and frankly sounded just what we needed for a much desired emergency fund. John and I had been rather excited to hear about this but we didn't have the $100 to start it up. So on this Sunday morning he looked at me and said "Well there's the start to the Add-On CD you wanted to begin. We'll go to the bank tomorrow and get it started." Now as the week and month and year went on, I heard from other members who approached me to thank me for my testimony and they shared with me how it had changed them and generated some honest discussion with their partners and their financial lives had begun to change, as had their marriages. So I felt the blessing was stretched out a bit more. Later we heard that the chaplain had been blessed with a new job, a much higher paying one. Do you see how that flow of blessing went?
There is a good possibility, and I say this sincerely, had I returned that money to that man, he might not have gotten that job. Others might well have chosen to ignore the content of my testimony and continued in their crooked paths and been in deeper financial bondage and lost their marriages. It is for certain John and I would never have begun the process that led to our emergency fund and from there to being debt free! If that sounds far fetched then stop and think about it like a math equation. If I refuse a gift, I've taken away from myself the joy of receiving. I've taken away from the giver the joy of giving. Subtraction twice over. That means everyone has LESS. No one has anything. If I take the gift offered and express my gratitude and joy, I've left the giver feeling pleasure. We are both happy. It's multiplication which always generates MORE and never less.
To point up the subtraction theory let me share another situation. At one time we were aware of a need in a church. We gave a monetary gift that would meet that need amply. Our only stipulations were that we remain anonymous and that the funds be used to purchase something that would meet both present and future needs. Years...YEARS... went by and the item was not purchased. There were various complaints over the lack from many and the frustration felt in getting by using the old things that didn't meet the needs of the congregation at all. The money was still there in the church accounts, as we knew due to the financial statements we received periodically.
One day we were approached by a new member who wanted to get up donations to meet that need...and we felt compelled to share that the financial need had been met. The new member was outraged that we'd not spoken up and demanded an accounting of why the funds hadn't been used. We said that we'd given the gift and felt it would draw attention to us if we demanded any such explanation. We explained that we'd felt very blessed to be able to give and that as the time had passed we'd struggled to hold on to that 'good' feeling and not let bitterness creep in as we saw the need continue to be unmet. We couldn't address the issue with out creating an ill feeling which was not our desire. However, the truth was, we'd been left with a sting in place of that previous pleasure...We'd been robbed of our blessing!
Now that was a long way round to say this: There are times when we are given a gift that is unexpected and wonderful. Receive it with joy! Bless the giver with genuine pleasure and let them know how much you enjoy it. God must have impressed them to bless you...don't stop the flow of their blessings This is not something you should feel you have to repay in kind or at all, unless in future God leads you to. The likelihood is you'll be blessing someone else sooner or later. And they will bless another and so on. Multiplication is a wonderful thing in God's Kingdom. That's the blessing of a blessing!