Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Blessed (10/11/12)
TITLE: Abase and Abounding
By Loren T. Lowery
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Carl looked up from his Sunday paper at his wife, Ruth, sitting opposite him on the sofa. She was reading the entertainment section. “Who?’’
“Yes, I guess she was.” He went back to reading an article about Lance Armstrong.
“And rich, too.”
“I wonder if she was happy?”
Carl laid the paper in his lap. “Well, she was married, what five or six time. If that’s any indication, I’d say no.
“Eight times - to seven different husbands.”
“Well, there you go. She was blessed with looks and money but probably not happy.” He picked up his paper and began reading again.
“Mother Teresa wasn’t what most people would call pretty and she lived in poverty yet she seemed blessed. I wonder if she was happy?”
Carl put down his paper again. “Where’s this coming from, Ruth? Are you okay?”
“Yes, it’s just that I heard someone at church talking about homeless people and how blessed some of us are for having a roof over our heads. I felt like telling her to work a day with me at Child Protection Services and she wouldn’t be so cavalier about calling a roof over one’s head a blessing.”
But you didn’t?”
“It was Mildred Perkins. What do you think?”
“Ah, yes, Military Mildred. She does seem blessed with, shall we say, a commanding tongue.” He cocked his head. “But then not necessarily happy either.”
“People think we’re blessed, you know. Good marriage, family…”
“And happy, too.” He paused. “We are happy, aren’t we?”
She laughed. “Of course sweetie; but like any marriage or family we have our ups and downs.”
He blushed. “Yes, I guess so”
“Doesn’t it seem that a true blessing is something one wouldn’t have to work at though…you know like a rose being fragrant simply because it’s a rose?”
“Maybe, but you’d have to admit it would be pretty tough to ask a flower if it were happy. Besides, Taylor sure didn’t’ look like she had to work too hard at being beautiful.”
She laughed again. “Men can be so naďve; but you’ve already admitted she probably wasn’t too happy. No, this is something else, something, I don’t know, deeper.”
“You mean like the soul?”
“Yes, I guess I do. And, well you remember Freckles and how he trembled so when we adopted him from the Humane Society; but then he learned to trust us and seemed so happy.”
“Abundantly, so,” he answered reflectively. He put down his paper and moved to sit next to her. Taking the paper from her lap, her laid it on the floor and picked up her hands. “You know what I think a true blessing is?”
She looked into his eyes. “What?”
“It’s being completely content with what you have at any given moment. Like right now, I couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be; or, with any person other than you beside me.” He squeezed her hands. “I’m at peace with you, Ruth. Far happier than I probably have any right to be.
“But, right here, right now it’s the most wonderful undeserved blessing I could ever imagine. And I think that is the way God designed us to be. Not wanting or needing something outside our reach, being happy and content just where we are as He has provided.”
She returned his gaze, tears beginning to shimmer in her eyes. She squeezed his hand in return. “Thank-you.”
He leaned over and kissed her. “No problem my love. None at all.”
She cleared her throat. “Paul said something like that in the Bible, didn’t he? Content whether abase of abounding. It reminds me of the quote over the doors of our church ‘“The same everlasting God who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and everyday. Either God will shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at Peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.’”
“There, maybe, is the answer, a true blessing is the grace to endure without want or fear.”
She kissed his hands - still clutching hers. “God’s grace, where would be without it?”
Carl glanced at a picture of Freckles with the family - framed on the fireplace mantel. “Maybe like Freckles before we adopted him,” he answered, “forever trembling, untrusting - ever wanting - never to know true, unconditional love.”
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