Thoughts on Blessings and Getting in Touch with God
Note: This post is rather long. I actually composed most of it while on a sand dune on Padre Island National Seashore this afternoon. I had a wonderful time clearing my mind and soul so I could get back in touch with God. Enjoy reading!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
- Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV
A few weeks ago, we were working with these verses for a homeschool writing assignment. Every day, my girls were to copy these two verses twice. I'll admit - I was grasping at straws for many things (Bible Story, writing assignment, memory verse) and -d "Verse of the Day". This passage came up.
Through the trying month of February 2007, these verses - especially one phrase - kept coming into my mind. "To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine..."
Immeasurably more is a wonderful phrase. I can't think of a better way to put it. He can do more than can be measured. If we ask for a teaspoon of blessings, He is able to provide a fload of Noahic proportions. If we can imagine a swimming pool full of blessings, He can deliver the moon - literally.
Immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. That's quite a bit! As I write this, I'm watching the waves roll in on the Gulf of Mexico. I'm in Texas on the Padre Island National Seashore, looking toward Florida. Or Cancun. Or Alabama. All I can see is water (and the occasional oil rig). The amount of water in the Gulf of Mexico is immeasurable. I mean, sure we can estimate it.
The surface of the Gulf of Mexico is about 600,000 square miles. Average depth is ~1 mile, meaning the Gulf of Mexico contains 600,000 square miles of water. This is equal to 88,318,771,200,000,000 cubic feet (that's 88 quadrillion feet). There are 7.48052 gallons in one cubic foot, so there are 660,670,334,337,024,000 gallons (that's 660 quadrillion gallons) of salt water in the Gulf of Mexico.
But that's just an estimate, not a measurement. And I can be anal about numbers - just ask my wife. In my not-so-humble opinion, it's already immeasurable. OK, so we can estimate that the Gulf of Mexico holds a bunch of water. It's not an ocean. The oceans are bigger and deeper. And there are more seas and gulfs that we haven't discussed. How much water is on the Earth? Immeasurable. And God is capable of pouring out even more blessings on one person than can be contained in all the oceans, gulfs, seas, lakes, ponds, rivers... of the world. And He can do the same for each and ever person in the world. Every day.
That's a lot of blessings.
What, though, is a blessing? Is it riches? Material goods? Food? Family? Friends? Power?
After seeking "blessings" through various means over a period of 40+ years, I don't think it's any of the above. After all, wise old King Solomon had all thesee things but did not consider himself truly blessed. (Read Ecclesiastes if you don't know what I mean. Here's a hint: Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.) True blessings may involve food, but only enough to keep you from starving.
I'm sitting on the beach listening to my MP3 player and thanking God for the blessing of having a beautiful, peaceful place to meditate while I write. Suddenly, "Adding to the Noise" by Switchfoot came on. Hint taken! Now I'm listening to the dull roar of the surf, the call of the gulls and the rustling of the reeds - and therefore to God's voice - as I write. Funny. As much as I love people's music, God's music is so much more beautiful! I'm moving south now.
The She-Log and Shells
I've moved about ¼ mile south - moseying along and getting caught up in my old beach days (minus the case of beer). I found some pretty shells I'll give my girls. I wish my digital camera wasn't broken so I could show you what I see.
As I walked just on the dry side of the waves, I saw several broken sand dollars lying in the sand. I picked up two pretty orange bi-valve shells for my daughters. Oh - and a spiral nautilus-type shell for science lessons. I can't see my van now - it's hidden by the dunes. I also can't see (or hear) the gas drilling rig behind me. I'm still surrounded only by the still, small voice of God.
The She-Log is a huge chunk of driftwood covered with dead, dry moss. It looks like it's covered with long gray hair. :)
Gathering shells is an innocuous, selfish activity. Steven Wright is the lease selfish shell collector I've heard of. (Go ahead - say that line several times really fast!) He keeps his seashell collection scattered on beaches around the world. :) But it brought to mind the subject of blessings, once again.
I'd seen all these broken sand dollars and I thought it would be neat to find a whole one that I could take home. I heard a reply, "You mean, kill a sand dollar so you can add it to your collection?"
"No," I thought, "just wash a dead one up on the beach."
Again the reply: "So you can keep it and not share it?"
One-on-one time with God can really make you think!
The pelicans are feeding. These are huge birds with at least an 8-foot wingspan. They dive into the water and catch fish - then come up with beaks full of water and fish. They spit out the water and eat the fish. It's really cool to watch God's creation in action!
Our blessings are peace, peace and peace. Not safety from sorrow or pain. Not giant TVs and an unending HD-DVD collection with a Dolby 7.1 400W Surround. Our blessings do not include any earthly guarantees except joy and peace. And these are still hard to come by if we are not leaning on the Lord. But they are more important than anything else.
"The Son of Man has no place to lay His head." We should consider ourselves blessed if we do. Our world, particularly America, considers blessings of a material sort to be "real" and those who accept peace in lieu of Easy Street are missing out. I'm sorry, Mr. TV Preacher. I can't find anywhere in scripture where I'm guaranteed a beach-front bungalow with a bottomless refrigerator/freezer and no bills. I can, however, find a promise that I will be filled with joy whether or not I have those things.
Now who's missing out? The guy who puts all his joy in his wealth or the guy who sacrifices his wealth to find joy?
"Sell all that you have and follow me. (Clay's Paraphrase) I read that many years ago and thought, "That can't be right! I'm a college graduate! I didn't suffer through 12 years of college and the Navy so I could give away everything I own!" But, He didn't stop there. "It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven." (again, Clay's Paraphrase) This doesn't mean that the rich won't get into Heaven, it just means that most people who have accumulated wealth have done so at the expense of others or have simply forgotten who gave them the wealth - Our Heavenly Father.
Now, having experienced life without all the fancy stuff (we watched DVDs on a 5" black and white TV for several months 'cuz our 13" color died!) I can say I'm ready to forego it all and experience His best. That may or may not include the latest technology. It may or may not include meat on the table three times a day. But it does mean I will not die of hunger or boredom! It does mean that I will not lack for the basic necessities (which are far more basic than most Americans realize!)
My butt's going to sleep again. I'm going to get moving again. I figure I've got about two hours of daylight remaining.
The Hydra Log
I walked the 1/2 mile back to the car. (I arrived at this figure in my own anally accurate way: I counted 767 footsteps on my left foot - with forty-five inches between heel marks for each step. This was a distance of 3,104 feet which is 0.58787878787878787878787 miles. Rounding to the nearest quarter mile, and accounting for possible errors in counting or math, I'll say it was ½ mile.) After walking back, I drove 3/10 mile north and ate a small package of blueberries! YUM! Now I'm in my van, parked facing the surf with the downwind window open. That north wind is quite chilly! The sun is hurrying toward the cloudless horizon and I'm going to be in total darkness in about an hour.
The Hydra-Log is a driftwood stump with the roots up. It reminds me of the mythical hydra - an animal with several snake heads.
HUNGRY!! I'm now in Rockport. Somehow I keep winding up here. I really like Rockport. Maybe someday I'll retire here?
As I drove from Padre Island National Seashore to Port Aransas, I watched the sun sink below the horizon. Only God can make pink, purple and blue look good together! I also watched with amusement as I passed the "Ferryboat Burma-Shave" signs. Starting a full 12 miles before arriving at the ferry landing, there were signs telling the rules and regulations for riding the ferry. I thought it was hilarious the way there was one rule every ½ mile for 12 miles. Then again, this was all new to me and I was an old-hand on the Island.
Anyway, I wound up at Off the Hook restaurant for dinner. It was a great seafood restaurant built right on Aransas Bay. The signs talked about their "forever view" out the huge picture windows facing the bay, but it was night so I didn't see the typical daytime view. But the sea is just as pretty at night - if not more so. As I sat, I watched fish jump in the lights and an egret standing on the other side of the lagoon right outside the window. The egret kept jabbing the water with its beak but always came up empty. Well, I know I'm going to eat. I must be more blessed than this egret. The tiny lagoon with the egret is very still, like a sheet of glass. Not a ripple mars the surface, save for the occasional jumping fish.
A red oval rose over the eastern horizon. At first I thought it to be some sort of light in the bay - maybe a channel marker. As it rose higher, it became brighter and more circular, evolving into the familiar sight of the light created to "govern" the night. The welcome smile from the "Man in the Moon" gazed at me after a long day of seeking God in everything I see.
AWESOME!!!! A gray porpoise just went jumping through the lagoon! God is great! Of course, that means it's not a lagoon. It also explains why the egret isn't coming closer to the jumping fish. The water's too deep! Egrets are long-legged birds that stand on the bottom. They don't swim like ducks, gulls or pelicans.
That was one of my blessings for today. As a lady at the next table said, "That will be one of my happy memories for the rest of my life. When a bad thing happens, I can pull up my happy memories - and that will be one of them." Seeing a porpoise, not boat-related, is a very satisfying experience. I've seen many in the Navy and crossing the ferry at Port Aransas, but never just swimming past like that.
Well, I'm heading home. It's been a rich day. I'll write more tomorrow. It'll be more concise and orderly. This is just notes from a very good day. I pray that God will bless you immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine as He has done for me today.