Count your many blessings

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Count your many blessings; name them one by one;

Count your blessings; see what God has done.

When I was growing up, my mother seemed to hum (sing) this song – or maybe just these two lines – almost endlessly. I’m not sure if it was her way of staying above the fray – after all, she was raising 7 children as a pastor’s spouse – or just her way of subtly shaping my attitude and the attitude of others around her. On December 15th, we passed what would have been my mother’s 101st birthday and whatever her motives, every so often, her soprano voice starts singing this song inside of me.

The most recent happening of that event was about 14 days ago or so. My children arrived home safely from Costa Rica, Boston, Calvin University and Alaska. Suddenly our house, which is fairly quiet these days with just the two of us, was filled with 6 adult children – who tended to stay up late and be loud together. Puzzles, video games, board games, cooking, and running errands became community activities. In the middle of all this hubbub, the date that marked the 25th birthday of our son, Micah, who died in infancy after just 23 days of life, happened. Was all of life perfect as these moments collided? No. Was it a rich time of God’s blessing in our lives? Absolutely. With all this going on inside and around me, I sat quietly one evening and my mother’s voice started singing her song inside me.

I’m not sure what kind of holiday season you had this year. Maybe it included celebrations with special people. Maybe it included some sadness for people who are no longer in your life. Maybe, like for me, there was a mixture of both of these feelings going on inside you for a variety of reasons. In my experience, that seems to be the way of most holidays, seasons and years of life.

As we enter this year of 2020 as a community of pastors, leaders and congregations, I can envision a year that will include celebrations and sadness. I can envision a year that will remind us of the brokenness that lives within us all. I can envision a year that requires us to lean deeply into God’s grace. Whatever 2020 brings into our lives and asks of us – as individuals and as a community – I’d like to believe we can and will live into 2020 with a song inside of us reminding us of God’s faithfulness. A song reminding us that God’s blessings inhabit our life – in the everyday and in the unexpected.

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