I used to ask Jesus to bless me. That is, until I realized that He and I have two very different definitions of the word.
When I was 22, I married the girl of my dreams. She was 25 (or shall I say, a "cradle-robber") and was well established in her career as a Registered Nurse in Oncology. It also helped that she was a bombshell. I definitely married up.
I was a well-liked pastor at a large church and was fortunate enough to receive a paycheck that could take care of my family.
Just months into our marriage, we decided to buy a brand new home in one of the nicest neighborhoods in America (Seriously. It won an award). Our front porch looked directly at a park which featured a fountain that shot water over 30 feet into the air. It was breathtaking.
We also had a cute little puppy named Potato. He didn’t shed.
And a Mercedes Benz.
And brand new furniture.
Man, we we’re blessed!
Well, kind of.
It only took 9 months of marital bliss before I found myself out of full-time work. The very next day Leila woke me up at 4am to tell me she was pregnant with our first child. And as it turns out, pregnant women can’t run around as a nurse all day, so she too had to move to part-time work toward the end of her pregnancy.
We lost our house.
We sold our cars, along with anything else we could find.
And we cried. A lot.
There is a story in the Bible where Jesus is giving his very first sermon ever. There was great anticipation for this day because the people of Israel had waited hundreds of years for their king to show up. In their minds, when the Messiah arrived, he would save them from their oppression and build them up as a nation. He would remove their poverty. He would bless them.
I can only imagine what that moment must have felt like as Jesus, the one who claimed to be the Savior of the world, prepared to speak to his captivated audience. Every ear would have been finely tuned-in to his first words…
“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:2
Wait a second…. Really?
These are the first words of Jesus’ campaign speech? You’re kidding, right?
He goes on to say that blessed are the people who mourn. Blessed are the meek, the merciful, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
To the Israelites, this didn’t sound like blessing. For them, blessing looked like power, and wealth, and influence! Certainly not brokenness, mourning, and meekness.
Jesus was flipping their world upside down. And he wants to do the same to yours.
For many of us, we define blessing as anything that gets us closer to our goal. So when we get a raise at work, we are blessed, because we’re reaching our goal of wealth. When we get a good report at the doctor, we are blessed, because we are reaching our goal of health. And when we get the guy or girl of our dreams, we are blessed, because we are reaching our goal of happiness. #blessed
On that day for the Israelites, Jesus did something unheard of; he changed the goal.
He set a new standard for his followers, essentially telling them that their goal is no longer health, wealth, and happiness, but rather, their goal is him.
He is the prize.
What would a blessing look like if Jesus was our goal? Well sometimes it looks like mourning, because I never pray harder than when I am desperate. Sometimes it looks like meekness, because I never rely more on a Savior than when I realize how small I actually am. And sometimes it looks like brokenness, because I never fully understand the power of God until I am faced with my utter weakness.
I recently found myself asking God to stop blessing me. Because I've learned that, according to Jesus, being blessed doesn't always lead to rainbows and butterflies. In fact, Biblical blessing will likely lead me toward brokenness, mourning, meekness and humility. And if I'm honest, I wasn't sure I had the faith to be blessed like that.
A blessing is not when God helps you accomplish your goals. A blessing is when God does whatever it takes to draw you closer to him.
Are you blessed?
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