Christian Living · Encouragement · Faith

Are You Forcing a Blessing?

One never knows what chance treasure these easy unconscious rollers may toss-up, on the smooth white sand of the conscious mind, what perfectly rounded stone, what rare shell from the ocean floor…but it must not be sought for or-heaven forbid!-dug for. No, no dredging of the sea bottom here. That would defeat one’s purpose. The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith…one should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach-waiting for a gift from the sea.  Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea

Waiting is excruciating. Anxiety in the waiting rises to a level that causes us to make decisions that mandate sacrifices unseen. When one digs for a treasure the unseen sacrifice could well be breaking the presentation of a beautiful sand dollar or starfish. Often I am guilty, in my impatience, of sacrificing the best for what is first.

I arrived at my beach chair with just enough time to see my husband and my oldest son escape into the distance. They stayed a course along the tide in search of a sand dollar. At times I could see them crouch down and move their hands through the soupy sand. Hours later, they returned to our beach house with the sweetest grin and the joy of a story they couldn’t keep to themselves.

Each time they explored the shore, they only came up with “change”, broken sand dollars. My son beamed as he recalled the decision to keep each broken sand dollar and how they’d gathered an impressive amount of “change”.

My guys were motivated to find a whole sand dollar. Unfortunately, as their stamina waned, disappointment grew. At my husband’s initiation they threw all the pieces back into the ocean. As they deposited the pieces in the rolling waters, they audibly asked the Lord if they could give Him “change” for a dollar. At that-they gave up their treasure hunt and began the long walk back toward the house. Half way through their journey home, they stumbled on a whole sand dollar! It was in plain sight, untouched…a blessing waiting to be received.

sand-dollar

No forcing or digging necessary. They surrendered the fruit of their searching and the gift was so much sweeter…the story even better!

That’s the heart I desire. Too often I’m more like a child in the throes of a temper tantrum. Fists and feet banging away at the disappointment of not getting what I wanted. Waiting takes discipline and hope.

Rebekah, wife of Isaac and mother of Esau and Jacob, schemed to force a blessing for her son, Jacob. Esau, the firstborn, was entitled to his father’s blessing. Because Rebekah loved Jacob more-she developed a plan to trick her own husband-stealing the blessing from Esau. A mother divided between her sons, her husband, her Lord and the natural order of things.

Her heart would divide itself between faith and doubt, believing that God’s promise required her intervention. Finding it difficult to rest in the promise God had made, she resorted to trickery to achieve it.  Ann Spangler, Women of the Bible

Rebekah forced a blessing for Jacob that wasn’t intended for him. She was shortsighted and honestly thought her scheme would be greater than God’s plan.

Forcing a blessing. Somehow we can’t see beyond the moment-the carrot dangling before us. Stepping back, gaining a broader perspective would take too much time, too much discipline, too much waiting-maybe.

My neighbor is an animal lover. She has bird feeders, deer feeders, stray anything feeders-you get the idea. She brought a block of birdseed over to our house last year and we felt so proud of ourselves to join forces in loving the creatures in our yard! Between our two houses, however, we have several large resident squirrels. It didn’t take long to grow frustrated with one squirrel who would regularly hang upside down from the tree to feast on the block of birdseed.  He would scare the birds off as soon as they landed by lunging from the tree. I would run out, maniac style, anytime I caught him on the feeder, but it was to no avail. He was so persistent.

One day I happened to notice the squirrel as he straddled a small bird feeder in my neighbor’s yard. He pounded away at the opening and enjoyed anything that fell out. The thought occurred to me in that moment how much we, mankind, are just like that silly squirrel. We get caught up in what others have, the gifts they’ve been given, the blessings we see pour out on them and we scheme to get that blessing for ourselves. We become squirrels pillaging feeders intended for birds. The opening is only large enough for a bird beak and we labor over creating tools to manipulate the opening. I sat in the rocker and asked the Lord for forgiveness…for the countless times I had been and continue to be a squirrel on a bird feeder. For the numerous times I employ trickery, like Rebekah, to get what I feel is rightly mine.

On the other side of my neighbor’s house is a squirrel feeder. There his meal would have required much less work. Instead, because he was short-sighted and  impatient, he settled for crumbs. Forcing the blessing does that…it breaks treasures, provides a less fulfilling meal, and sacrifices what’s best for what is first. Today I want to wait for a gift from the sea, a meal intended for me, the blessing God desires to lavish on me.

 

Lord, quicken me when I begin to force Your hand.

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18

 

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. Psalm 40:1-4

 

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