Sometimes we can be so sidetracked by the imperfections of the church that we forget the blessing we have through our Christian family. In virtually every prayer I say or I have heard, we offer God our thanks for the blessing we have, but sometimes we fail to stop and truly reflect on what we’ve been given. Just like our early family, the church has it’s flaws, but that is part of the beauty of it. Sure, we are going to get hurt and there’s going to be things that are just not right, but overall, I think the church is one of the greatest gifts God has bestowed upon us. I can’t speak for everyone, but I would like to take a moment to reflect on the blessings in my life.
On Jan. 31, 1987, I was baptized and thereby was added to the Lord’s church. At the time, I was quite depressed and lonely. I had gotten rid of some destructive elements in my life, but I was far from enjoying life. I was welcomed in with open arms and a close circle of friends that touched my life more than they could possible know. I was given a new direction in life and they helped me all the way. The church not only befriended me in ways that I had not experienced before, it helped me to get started in college and a whole new life.
I entered college at Oklahoma Christ in the fall of 88 not knowing a single person. It was through the church, I learned to love God. I learned to praise him as young people would gather at night just to sing. My professors became close personal friends who sought not just to teach, but to guide as well. It was the church that gave me my wife, who has been my partner through it all, and also one of the greatest blessings of my life. From our freshman year of college, we have witnessed the church in action together. The church has always been a part of our life, and it has literally pulled us through some of the darkest times. When Paula and I married, we didn’t have much as far as material possessions. I could put what I owned in my two military issued duffle backs. But it certainly didn’t stay that way. First of all, the church made sure we had a nice wedding. Then, the church gave us a “Pounding.” Now I’d received poundings in the military, but they were waaaay different. A church pounding gave food, money, and things, lots of things. Bridal showers, baby showers, you name it. My house is full of what the church provided.
Over the years, the church pulled us out of jams, gave us friends when we were lonely, encouraged us when we were down, admonished us when we screwed up, they rejoiced with us, they mourned with us, and just plain loved us. Through the church my wife and I were educated, my children grew up, went to camps, and on mission trips. We have been blessed in unspeakable ways. My children grew up in the church. The blessings were something they could count on without even noticing. It’s kind of like food; they’ve never been without it. I hope they don’t fail to notice the everyday ways they have been blessed through the church. Where did their biggest influences come from? Who were their greatest adult examples? Who could they turn to when there was nobody to turn to? Who brought gifts as they celebrated birthdays, graduations, and now even a wedding? I wonder if people stop and notice. Sure, other friends and family have helped along the way too, but our lives would not be what they are had it not been for the church.
I could go on for a long time reflecting on the blessings I enjoy as a direct result of the church, but I doubt that I would be able to even scratch the surface. The fact is, the blessings are so abundant we don’t even notice them. This is even true for the unbelievers. Most scarcely think of God or the church, but when trouble comes and bills can’t be paid, who do they think of then? That’s right; the church. Why? When you help a beggar along the road, what do they say to you? It’s rarely just a thank you. In my experience, God is always referenced in a phrase like, “God bless you.” Right? Most of the time, these people don’t know me or my religious beliefs. They simply seem to assume I believe in God. Now why is that?
The next time you get hurt by Christians, or you get frustrated because things are not like you expect them to be, it is probably a good time to count your blessings. The church is full of sinners, hypocrites, and other inadequacies; but in the midst of all the flaws, IT STILL WORKS! NEVER FORGET THAT!