This post is part one in a three part series that I am going to call, “Adventures in Missing the Point.” This post is on blessing, while the next will cover story, and the last post will be subtitled, “A Meeting With an Old Friend.”
The great theologian Frederick Buechner once described vocation as, “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” At this point, where gladness and hunger kiss, I believe you find someone who truly understands the meaning of blessing. Blessing, in our materialistic culture, is usually synonymous with the idea of receiving something. This idea isn’t wrong, Abraham received the blessing of fathering the nation of Israel, Jacob received his father’s blessing (or affirmation), and I believe that many of the things that are good in our lives today can be considered blessings. While this way of looking at blessings is technically correct, I would argue that, if this indeed is the only way that we do view blessing, we have missed the point. For we are forgetting that even though Abraham fathered the blessed nation of Israel, Israel had the responsibility to be a blessing to the rest of the world. We are quick to point out that Jacob was blessed, but slow to acknowledge that he had quite the difficult life, perhaps more difficult than his blessed-not brother Esau. If we simply look at blessings as gifts to be received, we do so to the exclusion of the idea that blessings come with responsibilities, hardship, and may require us to sacrifice things that we hold dear. A blessing should not only have a positive influence on our lives, but should also demand a response from us that impacts the world around us. Thus, Buechner was positively correct when he stated that there must be an interplay between our deep gladness (blessing) and the world’s great hunger (need). The world is full of hungers that waiting to be satisfied with blessings; if only we would recognize that it is our calling to fill them! I write about this because I feel that I have had a huge adventure in missing the point, with regards to the blessings that I have been given. Specifically, I know the Lord has blessed me with the love of processing and understanding ideas. Instead of using this love of ideas to be a blessing by edifying others and helping them wrestle with faith, I have used it to argue with others in a way that fosters anger and hostility. Perhaps worse, I have used this blessing to bring attention to myself and not to bring glory to the One that gave me the blessing in the first place. In missing the point with blessings, I have missed a far greater point, pertaining to the nature of God. God is what God is what God is, and we can never (ever) put him in any sort of box (even if that box is, dare-I-say, the Bible). I’m not quite sure what my blessing looks like with this understanding, but I know that it doesn’t involve slamming ‘truth’ down people’s throats. For sure, I know it must include some measure of humility and walking side by side with others in order that we might experience God together and seek to use that experience to increase our love for the world; being a blessing in the same manner that we are blessed.