Do any of you remember your mother telling you to “Count your blessings”? I remember when I used to whine about how someone else had something that I didn’t have my mother refused to feel sorry for me but told me to count my blessings instead. I didn’t particularly like that answer at the time but realize now she was trying to get me to look at what I had rather than focusing on what I didn’t have. That is still good advice for those of us who tend to look at what we don’t have instead of what we do have.
This past Sunday I was given the pulpit in the church I belong to to speak of the blessings I have received in fifty years of ministry and this time I was speaking from a different perspective than when I went whining to my mother so many years ago. This time I was stopping to look back at all that has happened in my life as a parish pastor and as a hospital chaplain and I just can’t count all the blessings I have received as I have interacted with people in congregations and in hospitals.
It reminded me of my father who farmed all his life. He worked hard. He got up every day and worked on weed control, clearing off the rocks that came to the surface of his land, and gradually at great expense tiling his farm until all the low spots were drained and his crops looked green and fertile from one end of the field to the other. It took him thirty years to get his land where he wanted it to be and yet when he reached his goal he realized that none of it would have happened if God hasn’t given him the strength and vision that he had. None of it would have come to fruition if God had not sent the sun and the rain and made the seed sprout and grow. So dad looked at the grain rolling into the bin and he said, “Thank you” for blessings beyond counting.
While dad tended the soil I have spent fifty years tending the soul. My path has followed dad’s path. I have gotten up every day and tended as many souls as I could. I have been blessed with health and strength. I have learned many things about listening and being patient and being persistent. And in the end like dad I see that it is all grace. God has given me everything that makes me who I am. He has given me many opportunities to meet people at some of the toughest places in their lives. And the blessings that have been poured upon me are beyond counting as I think back over all the years that have gone by.
Maybe you are at a place where you also are celebrating an anniversary or reaching a milestone event in your life. I hope you can stop and take stock of your life and join my dad and I in marveling at the blessings in your life and see that your blessings too are beyond counting.