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A Blessed Family
Do you consider your family blessed of God? Occasionally I get requests
from total strangers to perform a wedding ceremony for them. There was
a time in my ministry that I grudgingly handled such requests. I wondered
why they would turn to the church for their wedding when they weren't "church
people." Today, I gladly honor such requests, knowing that even people
that aren't Christians want a blessing on their marriage. And I also know
that talking to couples in preparation for their wedding day is a wonderful
opportunity for me to present the gospel. Over the years, I've seen several
couples come to faith in Christ as I explained the significance of what
they were asking me to do-give them a Christian blessing.
Recently I performed a ceremony for a couple that is forever etched
on my heart. Though I didn't ask their age, it was obvious to me that they
were in the twilight years of their lives. When Burt called me from his
home in Northern California to ask me to do the ceremony, he told me that
a mutual friend, a pastor referred him to me. We sat a date for the ceremony
and he and his bride to be stopped by my office the day before they were
to be married. That's when they told me their remarkable story.
When they were very young, they stood barefoot on a beach along the
Central Coast of California pledging their undying, eternal love to one
another. They had their own unofficial wedding ceremony I guess you might
say. Because of circumstances that they didn't elaborate on, they got separated
and went on with their lives. Both married. Both divorced. They lost touch
with one another, but that didn't mean they didn't think about one another.
For years, after dinner, Gloria would dial information all over the state
of California trying to locate Burt. What she didn't know is that Burt
had an unlisted number. For years-I'm not sure how many, but I think it
was more than 20, Gloria called directory assistance looking for Burt.
She never gave up.
An hour after Burt got his first listed number in years for a FAX machine,
the phone line rang, but the FAX machine didn't pick up, so Burt picked
it up, thinking it was the telephone company testing the line-it wasn't,
it was Gloria. They talked for hours, rekindling their friendship. Burt
promised to drive down to see Gloria in a couple of weeks when his work
eased up. The next day she got a call from him, "What exit did you say
I should take?" He asked. He was on the road to see her that day.
It was an honor for me to stand on the beach at Lover's Point and pronounce
them husband and wife and to ask God to bless them. There was a slight
mist in the air that day, for which I was grateful, because as you know
real men don't cry and the mist provided an excellent cover story as to
why my eyes were so moist. I still pray for that couple that God will bless
them. But what does that mean? What does it mean to be blessed of God?
Abraham's family was blessed. Genesis 22:17 says, "indeed I will greatly
bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens,
and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the
gate of their enemies." (NASB)
Does being blessed of God mean you won't have enemies? No, the verse
that contains the blessing answers that-it mentions the enemies the family
have. Being blessed doesn't mean God makes everyone like us, in fact, Jesus
said, "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you,
and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me." (Matthew
5:11 NASB) There is a sense in which we are blessed with enemies, or to
put it another way, they can be a part of God's blessing in our life.
Does being blessed of God mean you won't have conflicts? Not exactly.
Remember what we studied in Sunday School recently about Abraham deferring
to Lot over a land squabble? (Genesis 13:1-18; Genesis 14:13; Genesis 35:27)
Conflicts can be a part of God's blessings in our life. Jesus said, "Blessed
are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9
NASB) One way to look at conflict is that it is an opportunity to teach
others and learn from them-in a way, they can be a part of God's blessing
in our lives.
Does being blessed of God mean you won't be dysfunctional? I don't think
so. Remember when Abraham deceived Abimelech, telling him that Sarah was
his sister? (Genesis 20:1-18) Being dysfunctional is not a blessing, but
knowing that we are sinners who fail God miserable, leads to a poverty
of spirit that is a blessing. Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3 NASB) When we have a
teachable spirit-when we are poor in spirit, God disciplines us and molds
us into the people He wants us to be. Job 5:17 says, "Blessed is the man
whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty." (NASB)
and Psalm 94:12 says, "Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man
you teach from your law;" (NASB) It is only the disciplined person that
can be meek or controlled by God. Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek: for
they shall inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5 KJV)
Does being blessed of God mean you won't have problems? No. Remember
the problems Abraham and Sarah had being able to conceive a child? "So
Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed
time of which God had spoken to him.  And Abraham called the name of
his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac." (Genesis 21:2-3
NASB) The blessing God gave to Abraham included that he would have many
descendants. The pain of the waiting must have been multiplied by the fact
that they were waiting on the fulfillment of a part of the blessing. In
Genesis 15:2 Abram said, "O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings
when I don't even have a son?" (NLT) How could he have many descendants
without first having a child? Why did God make him wait? For one thing,
God's glory is best shown when He does the impossible. But another reason
is because God wants our drives to be righteous. Time is one tool that
God to erode impure motives and drives away from our soul. Matthew 5:6
says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they
shall be satisfied." By making them wait, God was refining the desires
of Abraham and Sarah.
Does being blessed of God mean you won't have times of testing? Of course
not-being tested is a part of God's blessing. Remember what God required
Abraham to do with his son? "And He said, 'Take now your son, your only
son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him
there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell
you.'" Genesis 22:2 NASB I can't even begin to imagine the pain involved
with this test. How could a testing like this be part of God's blessing?
Testing builds endurance James 1:3 says, "knowing that the testing of
your faith produces endurance." (NASB) The writer of Hebrews commented
on Abraham's testing by saying, "By faith Abraham, when he was tested,
offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up
his only begotten son;" (Hebrews 11:17 NASB) If we are to have a strong
faith-an enduring faith, then we must undergo times of testing. There is
a sense in which it is a blessing to be tested.
Being blessed of God does not mean that you won't have enemies, conflict,
dysfunction, problems or testing-in fact, it may just mean that those things
will be a part of God's blessing in your life. Being blessed doesn't mean
life is easier-it just means that it has meaning. God's blessing is His
hand upon your life to do His work and make a difference in His word.
Isaiah 51:2 says, "Look to Abraham your father, And to Sarah who gave
birth to you in pain; When he was one I called him, Then I blessed him
and multiplied him." The blessing was attached to his calling-Abraham went
from just one person to multitude of people and became the Father of God's
people. The calling and the blessing wasn't for Abraham's benefit, it was
for the benefit of the Kingdom of God. Do you want your family to be an
on-mission, make-a-difference family? Do you want to be the kind of family
that God can use to impact the Kingdom? Then plead with Him for His blessing,
and fasten your seatbelt, because you're in for the ride of your life.
And maybe when you are old, it will be said of you as it was said of Abraham
in Genesis 24:1 "Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the Lord had
blessed Abraham in every way."