This month, it is only right to have a letter reminding us to be thankful. Our writer, Shari Damaso, has used music in her life to focus her thinking on recognizing and enjoying God's blessings. The first psalm set to music I learned as a new believer was Psalms 103: "Bless the Lord, O my soul..." How thankful I was to experience God's blessing of salvation. May we all be continually aware of the Lord's goodness to us, and rejoice in Him alone!
Thankful for God's grace,
Don't Just Count Your Blessings....ENJOY Them!
By Shari Damaso, New Life Community Church, Marion, Iowa
The hymn "Count Your Blessings" has a special place in my heart. It was the first song I learned to play on the pipe organ using both keyboards and the foot pedals. Since it can be played as an upbeat hymn, as a teen I liked to pull out all the stops and play it so loud the church windows rattled. Every time I was finished, the catchy tune of the chorus was stuck in my head and I left feeling happy. Even thinking about those days brings a smile to my heart.
I've discovered that there is truth in that hymn: counting your blessings can be a helpful tool in the Christian life. As a younger Christian, I learned that when my thoughts were negative it helped to pray through Philippians 4:8 and find something true, something noble, something right, etc. that I could focus on to correct my thinking. Now I realize that whenever I do that, each thing I pray is a blessing.
When my young children were grumpy, I would often ask them to name three things for which they were thankful. Sometimes I would need to ask for three more.....and three more....until their improved attitude was clearly shown by immediate and sincere responses. They didn't realize it, but each item they named -- from sunshine to stuffed animals to Daddy -- was actually a blessing in their lives.
In those times, I was following the familiar hymn's instructions to count my blessings during difficulties. I have found advice to be helpful, but I wish there was a verse reminding me to LIVE my blessings. Blessings are meant to be more than a list I review from time to time, they are meant to be experiences of my Creator's love, provision, and character. A Sunday morning message I heard recently emphasized that blessings aren't always tangible items, sometimes they are simply the peace and joy and hope that we experience in our hearts. I want to live in a way that acknowledges God's hand in all of my blessings, but too often I forget or - even worse - overlook them!
Recently I was praying for wisdom in addressing undesirable attitudes and behaviors in my children. As I thought about our days, I realized that we weren't having fun together. God impressed on my heart that we needed more laughter, more joy. We needed to spend more time enjoying His blessings together.
In the busyness and difficulties of life, we often fail to notice our blessings. Maybe life is routine and we take them for granted. Maybe life is hard and it seems that blessings are like miracles - few and far between. Another hymn - based on Ezekiel 34:26 - declares God's promise that "There Shall Be Showers of Blessing." Showers: not wimpy sprinkles that fail to water our parched hearts. Showers: not scary thunderstorms that overwhelm us.
My children LOVE to go out and play in the rain. They are always on the lookout for a rain shower to enjoy. When one comes, they are eager to get outside and experience it. They run, they play, they laugh, they smile, they hate to see it end, they glow as they tell Daddy about it when he comes home, they dream about the next shower and what they will do in it.
Imagine if we had the same outlook on showers of blessing. Every day we would eagerly look for blessings. When they arrived we wouldn't admire them from a safe distance; we would run out and experience them as quickly as we could, not wanting to miss a single drop. What fun we would have! How refreshed we would feel! What joy would fill us! How clearly we would see God! What stories we would have to share with others! How eager we would be for the next shower of blessing!
Check your blessing forecast today, sister. I am confident that whether the skies over your life are filled with sunshine or gray clouds, your loving Father has a shower of blessing ready for you. Anticipate it. Recognize it. Experience it. Share it. Enjoy it.