I am so challenged this morning about how I see blessing in my life. I'm preparing to speak to the youth group this weekend about the Beatitudes and it's honestly kicking my butt. The definition of blessed is holy, consecrated. I don't usually think about blessings in those terms. I think about little things that make life easier. I am blessed when our dryer works and I don't have to hang the clothes on the line. I am blessed when we have a functioning vehicle. I am blessed when the kids are healthy or the bills are paid on time. None of those things have anything to do with being holy, set-apart, consecrated to the Lord.
While looking around online, I came across this definition of blessings: Anything God gives that makes us fully satisfied in Him. Anything that draws us closer to Jesus. All those small things I listed are ways that my flesh is satisfied; they are not things that lead me to find satisfaction in Christ. Being comfortable almost never leads me to worship. Being content almost never draws me closer to Jesus. Pain, rejection, poverty, depression, sickness, all the things I would consider curses might actually be the blessings that "God gives that make [sic] us fully satisfied in Him." Man, have I got it all wrong!
Sacrifice is a very strong image and theme in Christianity. In the Old Testament, we see God's people offering burnt sacrifices on the altar, in worship to the One True God. They burnt the flesh of their most prized possessions as an act of faith, obedience and trust in God. In the New Testament, Paul tells us to offer ourselves as an offering, a living sacrifice.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
My default when my flesh is bothered is to complain or check-out. If there's nothing I can do to remedy the situation, then I decide to ignore it. I'll pray a bit about it, but I typically won't war the heavens for the little annoyances and frustrations in my day-to-day. What I'll do is look for ways to feed my flesh, to make me feel better. I'll read a book. I'll eat a sweet snack. I'll watch a movie...all of these are me escaping into my flesh instead of escaping into the presence of God. If I were to take these hardships as opportunities to press-into God, they would turn into blessings in my life.
I've got to change my mindset and see the hidden blessings: the stuff that isn't easy, but draws me to Him. Those struggles can lead me to the altar or I can keep running and miss-out on the blessing that would come through it.
How about you? Do you also miss the blessings because you're running from God? Do you chose to escape into flesh instead of battling through the sadness, the disappointment or the pain? God is drawing us closer to Him if we will allow Him to.