My wife told me a story about something she witnessed on her way to work yesterday. The story was about a man, presumably homeless, or at least struggling to get by, begging on the sidewalk for some loose change. He had the usual collecting cup out in front of him and was calling out to passersby in the hope that generosity would come his way. Two ladies, on their way to work, stopped and took notice when he asked, ‘Do you have any spare change?’ They said no but one of the ladies rummaged around her handbag before procuring a bottle of juice and a salad wrap – what would have been her lunch – and proceeded to give it to him. He gruffled a ‘thanks’ and they went on their way and around the corner.
As soon as they were out of sight he hopped to his feet, threw the wrap to the ground and kicked it around, yelling and swearing about who knows what. The juice, on the other hand, he looked at with great deliberation before deciding that this was at least something that wasn’t completely useless to him and then went about pocketing it into his shabby overcoat. No sooner was his fit over that a policeman walked up to him, most likely keeping an eye on the situation from afar, and proceeded to question him over the outburst he had just had.
That’s all my wife saw from the other side of the road for at that moment the ‘green man’ signalled for her to cross the road and continue on her way to work. Why am I retelling the story? Probably because I think there’s something to learn about accepting a blessing in that story.
I recently, and completely, tore my Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in my knee playing a game of sport. Between then and now I have gone through an array of emotions regarding it, most of them revolving around frustration and disappointment. The injury ultimately means that without surgery I am unable to play any type of sport that involves changes of direction for the knee (surfing, football, volleyball to name just a few…) and so the hunt for a specialist, an orthopaedic surgeon, began. After some calling around and my initial consultation with the specialist my wife and I have found out that intermediate surgery, for we do not have private health, is just under $5000. A lot of money.
I’ve been praying since the day it happened, as I’m sure family and friends have also been doing for me, for any kind of miracle – preferably complete healing of damage to my knee. I know its possible and I will continue to believe for it as I go through the process. But my miracle came the other day from somewhere I least expected it to come from: life group (shout out to B & B).
You’re probably thinking that life group is a fairly usual place for a blessing to come out of and you wouldn’t be wrong. What made it completely unexpected was that my wife and I did not ask for money or even discuss the costs of the operation with the whole group. What’s more is that whilst we enjoy the life group and look forward to the company of those that attend we have only been going for a short amount of time and had not previously known many of those that do attend.
And so, when we rocked up to life group to be told that people wanted to bless us financially it was a bit of a tear-jerker as I blabbered my ‘thanks’ to everyone. Over the next couple of days we have received substantial and generous contributions towards that $5k figure that we are extremely grateful for.
How does this all relate to the homeless man who refuted the generosity of another? Let me tell you.
In my story, our life group represent those that generously gave of their lunch to me, the metaphorical homeless man. I may not have refused the ‘lunch’ but I had several serious reservations about accepting it; my wife and I aren’t poor and in comparison to others, aren’t struggling. Could we really accept such a blessing considering this status? I didn’t know however, the leaders of our life group, B & B, were adamant in saying that yes, we could. Why?
Each couple / individual that went above and beyond in blessing us did not feel pressured to. They wanted to. Not only this, but they wanted to give freely and with no strings attached. Because it allowed them to reflect someone bigger than themselves: Jesus. He first blessed all of us by freely and generously giving his life – the ultimate gift – so that we could experience a miracle: a relationship with God that saved us from the clutches of sin. When you truly grasp this gift it’s hard not to find ways to bless others; it’s infectious and even though you have to sacrifice something, a more powerful, warm and satisfying sensation deep within your person replaces it.
Who’s the policeman in this story? God. He’s the authority. Despite my concerns and reservations about accepting such a blessing I realised later, when debriefing with my wife and later praying to God, that it all actually made sense. I had been communicating with God, the highest authority, asking for some kind of miracle.
It does turn out that God talks back, not in the loud booming voice, but that quiet, yet absolutely confirmative, whisper that resonates with you long after you’ve done praying. The policeman on the street was most likely asking, ‘Why didn’t you accept the blessing? What’s the issue?’ God is saying, ‘It’s alright, this blessing is meant for you. Receive it freely.’
Don’t be afraid to accept the blessing that comes your way. Receive it gratefully and allow it to transform your situation. A special thanks to everyone from my life group regardless of whether you contributed financially, prayerfully or both. We appreciate the support of you all.