It was fun to see so many folks on Facebook this year list something each day in November for which they were thankful. What a great idea!
As I read my friends’ posts, I was inspired by their positive attitudes. I knew some of the details behind their praises, and their glowing praise wasn’t always gained by traveling a rosy path. For many, it was a messy journey. Muddy boots. Broken hearts. Disappointments. But still…they had thankful hearts for their messy blessings. Very impressive.
Scripture’s Examples of Messy Blessings
As we begin our Countdown to Christmas, let’s look at two responses in Scripture to “Messy Blessings.” Both individuals received an angelic visit. Both received news of a son that would be born under miraculous circumstances. But each responded differently to their messy blessing…
Concentrating on the Messy
Zechariah was an elderly priest whose wife Elizabeth was barren. Priests of the day served at the Temple in Jerusalem for two or three weeks each year, and on one such occasion, Zechariah was chosen by lot to enter the Holy Place and burn incense on the golden altar. It was an honor visited on a priest no more than once in a lifetime. What a blessing, right? Well, it got messy…
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John…”
Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”
Luke 1:11-20 (NIV – emphasis added)
Messy Blessing’s Worst Enemy
Human analysis of Divine intervention—it kills the thrill and robs our attitude of gratitude. As I’ve grown older, I notice it takes bigger, better, grander to convince or impress me. Intellect, physical illness, busy schedules—all these human considerations mire us in the mess and threaten our ability to be blessed.
Concentrating on the Blessing
Scripture tells us of another messy blessing bestowed on a young woman who was betrothed to a carpenter from Nazareth. Betrothal in ancient Israel was different than engagement today. It was sealed with a contract, lasted approximately one year, and couldn’t be broken without a legal proceeding (similar to a divorce). Oh…and one more thing…getting pregnant BEFORE you were married was a HUGE no-no!
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph…The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.”
Luke 2:26-38 (NIV – emphasis added)
Messy Blessing’s Best Friend
Wide-eyed anticipation of God’s goodness—it erases the places where gratitude gaps. We may not know HOW God will accomplish His plan…we may not even know WHAT His plan is… But when we wait with wonder to see the goodness of God revealed, we skim over the mess and stand ready to be blessed.
- Is there a blessing in your life that’s a little messy—something that humanly overwhelms but shows God’s divine power and/or favor?