Based on a true story.
“Today we are looking blessed.”
The men’s group is my favourite meeting of the week. My friends call it two hours of robust discussion. Those less charitable describe it as little more than bible verses at twenty paces.
The word BLESSED appeared on the white board.
“I want three quick definitions,” I said adding 1. to the board.
“Happy,” a retired builder offered.
“Happy,” I responded scribbling furiously.
Brian Maize had spent his life in the Pentecostal movement. Each week we looked forward to his unique take on the Holy Spirit.
An awkward silence followed.
“The most obvious definition is the simple one,” I hastened to add LOOKING OUT FOR on the board. “Prove me wrong,” I laughed.
“I thought blessed just means a deep seated happiness.” Our church elder interjected.
“Really?” I responded.
George Harper appeared to bristle. My style of teaching obviously unsettled him. Without pausing I wrote PSALM 23.
“Who can quote from memory?” I asked benignly.
“The Lord is my shepherd,” the retired builder raised a finger.
“The Lord is looking out for me the way a shepherd cares for his sheep,” I acknowledged.
“I shall not want.” A retired insurance broker found the verse in his bible.
I scribbled MY NEEDS.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures,” he added.
I added MY HUNGER.
“You next,” I pointed at the shy train driver.
“He leads me beside still waters.”
I scribbled MY STRESS.
“Now it’s my turn,” I said facing the group. Mentally I counted twenty five men and smiled with satisfaction.
“The valley…” I started.
“My death!” the insurance broker blurted.
“I will fear no evil,” I intoned.
There was another silence.
“Come on, it’s simple,” I wrote MY FEAR.
“Rod and staff,” I peered over my glasses with mock disapproval.
“Our disobedience,” the elder said quietly.
“I can live with that,” I responded writing the word on the board.
I finished with a flurry writing MY WOUNDS and MY ENEMIES on the board.
My heart warmed as several men made notes in the back of their bibles.
“Now it’s that time of the week,” I laughed. “I want a Gee Whiz story that illustrates my argument.
“Before we move on I’m not convinced.” The voice of my elder registered a hint of disapproval.
“Well George, stand and deliver!” I offered the floor
“Ephesians one and verse three, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places,” he intoned seriously.
“Your point?” I asked.
“Blessed is our state in heaven,” he said. “This life is full of hardship and suffering.”
For a moment I hesitated. How could a study on blessing turn into a message of misery, I wondered.
“Well,” I held my bible upside down. “When I look at that verse I see that every part of God is working hard to save every part of me.”
“But it doesn’t happen all at once.” George Harper stood his ground.
“Can I share something?”
The voice came from the new guy.
“Peter,” I welcomed the interruption.
“Hi, I am Peter,” the large, well dressed man stood and faced the meeting. “I was a travelling salesman and about ten years ago I was driving home in the pouring rain.”
Peter shifted on his feet as he gathered his thoughts.
“I don’t remember what happened. But apparently I slid off the road, through a farmer’s fence, across a field and ended up in a ditch.”
“That’s some story, Peter,” I said. “I’m glad you’re still with us.”
“Well, the funny thing is a policeman saw my indicator flashing in the ditch and stopped to investigate,” he continued. “The problem is, it was a straight road and I don’t remember turning it on since I was out to it with a bump on my head.”
For several seconds the group paused to consider the importance of what was being said.
“So it’s like you said, pastor,” Peter concluded. “Sometimes we have to sit back and appreciate that God really is looking out for us.”
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