Step One: Recognize that the blessings in your life come from God.
Don't be this person:
A man is desperately searching for a space in a church parking lot on a wedding day. As best man in the wedding, he can't be late. "God," he prays in desperation, "I'll go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life if you just find me a space!"
Suddenly a spot opens up. "Oh, never mind God," he says. "I just found one."
Excerpt from The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything
If you are reading this article, chances are good that you have already invited God to be an active part of your life. The invitation you extended to Him is responded to with a multitude of blessings and obligations. Recognizing the blessings and fulfilling the obligations make you a good steward and, in turn, bring you ever closer to God. Obligations, the second part of the equation, we will discuss in a later article. For now, we will start with the blessings. Recognizing blessings may seem easy, but it actually takes work.
As a follower of Christ, you are special and your blessings come directly from God, your Father. From the moment you open your eyes in the morning, you are blessed. Throughout the day, no matter how great, ordinary or difficult, God is with you. Through the Holy Spirit, He consoles you, He pushes you, He makes you laugh. He puts difficult people in your life. He helps you relax. He gives you green lights when you're in a hurry and sometimes He makes you late to avoid accidents. He gives you extra work and responsibility to mold you into a better mother, father, friend, teacher, student, doctor, etc. He gives you good parking spaces, sometimes in the front of the lot and sometimes in the back of the lot. And sometimes, if He wants you to walk a little farther for your health, He may just give you a space outside of the lot. In every emotion you experience, every laugh and every sigh, God is blessing you.
It may be easy to see God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in all that brings us pleasure. We recognize these blessings easily and often don't hesitate to thank God. It may not be so easy to recognize God in blessings that bring us pain. But He is there, supporting us, challenging us, feeling what we feel. And while we cannot see the big picture, He is painting it as we mourn, as we anguish, as we cry. Sometimes it takes days, months or even years to recognize and admit that difficult times in our lives were actually blessings in disguise.
God is a mystery - this is for certain. We cannot fathom the extent of His love for us. After all, how can He love us when we're often so undeserving to the point we may not even love ourselves? While His love for us is beyond our understanding, we can accept it. By accepting it, life becomes easier and more meaningful, and things that gave us pressure before have little power over us now. If you have invited God to be an active part of your life and you recognize that all your blessings come from God, you are either on the way to becoming a good steward or you're already there. You are surely an example to the rest of us.
One of my proudest moments as a parent came a few weeks ago when I overheard my young son saying his nightly prayers. He thanked God for a variety of things and almost concluded when he remembered something. "Thank you also, God," he said, "for the 60 out of 60 on my English test. I couldn't have done it without You." I caught my breath. I couldn't have done it without You, he said. That acknowledgement meant more to me than any perfect test score.
This week, let us all take time to thank God several times a day for our many blessings. If the coffee tastes good in the morning, thank God. If there's gas in the car, thank God. If you have enough to pay the bills, thank God. You get the picture. See you next week.
(c) 2011, Holy Angels Church.