Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Count your blessings


Tears filled my eyes and some rather violent tugs were pulled on my heart strings last night as I checked my email before bed.

I was taken back a year-and-a-half or so to a time when our community paid tribute to a young soldier who died in the war in Iraq.  I never knew him as he wasn't even living in our community anymore. But his mother was, and so was his brother and his wife and kids.  They were kind of lost in the shuffle with some of the more major news outlets at the time as the young soldier's wife was more featured in the grieving process.

Times goes by and we forget.  We live our own lives, go through our own sorrows and joys, and hopefully along the way we touch someones life.  Right?

Billy Coffey shared a touching story of the Ten Dollar Blessing on his blog (What I Learned Today) a short time ago and I was moved.  Another blogger on the High Calling Blogs network was moved too and started a challenge - a Ten Dollar Blessing challenge - to others in the network.

Here goes.

I have said before that we worship on Sunday mornings in a former bowling alley turned banquet hall.  The gospel is preached by both pastors and lay people in a place where we cover the bar in the back of the room with black curtains and provide a setting in which the unchurched or underchurched in our little community can come, feel comfortable, loved and meet Jesus.

A couple of months ago this family began to come to The Lighthouse.  A husband, wife and their five kids.  Oh, and his mother and sister also come along.  We provide a little breakfast-type item prior to church, worship together and then share in a meal together following the service.

They came back and they have continued to come.  Praise God.  One of their first weeks to worship at The Lighthouse was my Sunday to teach it - and towards the end of the service a challenge was issued to those who needed prayer to come and pray.  To get up, right then and there, to come and pray.  

One of the people I got to pray with that morning was the fallen soldier's brother.  "Ever since my brother died I have had a hole in my heart," he told me.  He went on from there to ask prayer about choices and struggles that accompany his pain, but wow, what a blessing to pray with and for him that morning and since.

Some three weeks ago, this young man lost his job.  Remember, he has a wife and five kids at home and now they have no income, but they continue to come to church on Sunday morning.  This past Sunday morning, during a time of prayer requests - when people actually take a moment to write them down and then they are all read in the front of church - one came from this young man.

I was home sick, but was sent this email last night.  Thus the tears:

Chris,
I thought I should pass this along to you.  It was a prayer request from Sunday at the Lighthouse.  Showing you again that you make a difference:)  I ask for all to pray for my family, and I would also like to thank God for people like Mike and Chris and all the others at the Lighthouse who have been so helpful in my family's time of need.

I have prayed with this young man, emailed him a couple of times and I talk to him on Sunday mornings.  I have spoken to an employer on his behalf, but I haven't given him anything.  I haven't really done anything for him.

Or have I?  

All I have done is a portion of what just about everyone reading this would already do, but I share this with you for a couple of reasons this morning.  A.)  I know full well where my ten dollars is going; and B.)  Blessings so often come in forms other than money.  This young family has seen Jesus afoot in a place we call The Lighthouse and we are blessed to be at work with God in what he is doing there.  It isn't about me, please understand that, but it is about what God is up to in the lives of this young family.

At the time of the funeral procession for the fallen soldier I was dealing with enough of my own junk that no one else really mattered.  It bothered me that a soldier from our community had lost his life, but that's where it stopped.  Today, my heart is so full of compassion and hurt for this guy and his family that I want to sell everything I have and help him and others like him, but I know I can't and am really not even supposed to.  That's part of my experiencing grace and peace in this life.

I continue to fall back on II Corinthians 9 where Paul writes that each man should give as he has decided in his heart to give - not relunctantly or under compulsion - for God loves a cheerful giver.  

I can't save this family, only Jesus can, but I can give them my heart, my love and my prayers.  Perhaps I am even supposed to share ten dollars and ask all of my friends to do the same. 
 
That's my challenge today, and my challenge to anyone who happens to read this.  I pray you count your blessings; that you open your eyes to see those around you; that you open your ears to hear those around you; and that you open your heart to those around you to love them more and to show them Jesus each and every day.

9 comments:

Jennifer Dukes Lee said...

One of the greatest gifts that we can give anyone is our time. Time to walk alongside them in their hurt, time to listen to their stories, time to pray for them and WITH them, time to show someone you really care. Your post here reminds us all of the value of our time. Like last night -- when you took the TIME to call my husband and let him know you're praying for him, and then you took the TIME to actually do it. Thanks, Chris!

Billy Coffey said...

I agree with Jennifer. Ten dollars will absolutely help this man and his family. But the prayers, the company, and the attention shown to them is priceless. Thank God for him, his brother, and you.

Cheerful said...

Sending prayers. And a good reminder that "God loves a Cheerful Giver" For more ideas you may want to visit www.cheerfulgivers.org

janelle said...

Chris, I love how humble you are - how you always want to point out that it's not about you. But the truth is, I have never gotten that impression from you; you live your life for the One who gave His and that is what is so incredible about you and your ministry. HIS strength through your weakness is a beautiful thing!

patty said...

Once again, thank you for sharing from your heart in such a poignant and moving way. I see in my shop, day after day how much people just need to know that someone cares enough to take the time & energy to talk with them and really share what's going on in their lives. May God continue to reveal Himself to you and bless us through it!

spaghettipie said...

Thanks so much for writing about your experience! You completely capture the heart of the challenge - to be on the lookout for opportunities to bless others. What an encouragement to be creative and look even beyond money!

Robert Hruzek said...

Excellent post, Chris! The fact that you even took the time to write this is evidence of a caring and tender heart; one that is pleasing to God.

Jennifer is right; it's not the money, it's the heart that makes the difference. The $10 is only a vehicle to pass it from one to another.

Carol said...

Sometimes it is the small things that mean the most. I enjoy a hug just about more than anything in this world. The attention shown to others is what life is all about. It makes the road less lonely. Thanks. CArol

Scott McQueen said...

Hi Chris!
I love how you put it, “One of the people I got to pray with”. This says so much; it is such a joyful privilege to be able to give as our Lord has so abundantly given to us. Giving as we have purposed in our heart is so important; whether it be giving of our time, our money, our prayer, our sympathy, our or support. It is indeed a privilege to be able to give joyfully.

It is so amazing how when we give with all the intent of charity and doing God’s work that, if we give as cheerful givers, it is often us who ends up the most blessed! These are the kind of seeds that grow to produce fruit that is sweet for all! From one little seed, planted with love and care, without pressure or reluctance, a harvest comes that feeds so many. What a gift from God! As II Corinthian 9:8 in the NLT translates it “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”

p.s. Let us know were we can send a $10 seed to this beloved brother, let us all share in this joy!