Sunday, February 24, 2013

Unexpected Blessings

Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops.
What if your healing comes through tears.
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near.
What if the trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise...

There was a time in my life when I thought that God was kind of like Santa Claus; he came bringing presents - like Santa around Christmas.  Then there was a time I didn't believe in God at all; let alone, a God of gifts.  Life has changed my way of thinking.  God, in my life, has changed me.

A couple of weeks ago, a talented musician in our church sang the song "Blessings" by Laura Story, during the offering.  What a beautiful song; it moved me to tears.  The chorus, however is what spoke to me the most.  Listen.  

I remember learning the 23rd Psalm in Bible School years ago.  My sisters and I went to this little church a couple of blocks away after school on Mondays.  My favorite parts of those afternoons were the felt-board stories - stories about kings, and lions' dens, and angels, giant-killers, and strong men with magic hair, the songs - Jesus Loves Me, Stop and Let Me Tell You, and the New Testament Song, and I loved the crafts.     I did NOT love the memorization we were expected to accomplish.  Looking back, I am thankful for the verses I was able to memorize:  the Lord's Prayer, John 3:16, and Psalm 23.  

I was a child.  Psalm 23 was scary to me.  It spoke of the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  I pictured skeletons, and a hooded Grim Reaper with a sharpened scythe.  I didn't want to ever go through that valley.... little did I know then, that years later I would be living entire chapters of my life in that valley.  

Laura Story, the woman who wrote and sings Blessings, has said that God doesn't always give us what we want; He gives us what we need.  Psalm 23 is like that.  God gives us green pastures and still waters.  He restores our soul - he comforts and strengthens us.  He lifts us up in front of our enemies and blesses us.  These are the gifts we recognize, kind of like Santa Claus at Christmas.  But he also leads us into that scary Valley of the Shadow of  Death.  It's not a yea, though as in if - it's a yea, though I walk as in when.  When I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, you God, are with me.  Your rod and your staff will comfort me (and bring me safely through...).  Thank you, God, for the unusual blessing of the Valley of the Shadow.

It is an unusual blessing.  We are tempered in the Valley of the Shadow.  We grow; we mature; we ask forgiveness; we seek Him.  For whatever reason - God takes us through that Valley.  To strengthen us, to help us hone our faith in Him, to allow us to feel compassion, to appreciate peace, to yearn for His stillness.  Our God is sovereign - we simply go where He leads.  

What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Song lyrics from Blessings, by Laura Story

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