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So, what is a blessing in the real world?


Credit: Richard McHowat/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Richard McHowat/Flickr/Creative Commons

“Bless you” is something you might hear from your grandmother, or if you sneeze. The very old superstition is that you sneeze your soul leaves your body when you sneeze and it must be blessed back in.

My sneezes can wake up babies and make them cry, they are so loud, and by that standard I have no soul. The concept of blessing is getting outdated in our modern world.

A blessing is just something good, usually from God, or from someone who is close to God and acts as His agent. Some Christians still say “God bless you.”

I believe the problem with blessing is us. The way God sees people is very different from the way we see, and we don’t appreciate good things from humble people; make that ‘unimportant’ people.

A few years ago, I worked in a large university, surrounded by people who were trying to be important in the world. I wrote about this a few days ago. When I reached early retirement age, I was retired against my will. My friends all had the same experience, and none of us liked it. Our egos took a beating when we stepped into the world of ordinary working people.

I left a PhD program and accepted a master’s degree that I didn’t need, and while I looked for a new job, I found some fill-in employment to help pay my bills. On the quiet days, I was a substitute teacher’s aide, which meant sitting on a small plastic stool with a bunch of five-year olds, for play-school story circle. This was an awful and humiliating experience for me, Mr. almost a PhD. And then I sat down and joined the toddlers, and it was hilarious fun, and I was paid to do it.

Humility is a hard lesson to learn, but you will miss most of the blessings if you won’t learn.

In my semi-retirement I have worked at several jobs, and I have learned about blessings from God; lessons I did not know before. For a few years I worked for a large bus company, as a trainer and safety officer. I will skip over the details, but the work was always interesting. They treated me well, but they had a school bus division with about two hundred routes. Every day a driver would phone in sick, and I became a permanent substitute yellow school bus driver, along with all the other managers. I could not get my important work done.

One day I was sent at noon to drive play-school children home; more five-year olds. I really would have appreciated a pat on the back or two thumbs up from the president, but he was probably driving a bus too. My bus was really big, and about eight little babies were carefully placed in the front rows. Their regular driver was probably like a grandmother with a commercial driver’s license, and a cozy short bus.

I looked at the children and they were all staring at me wide-eyed and shocked. I was afraid one of them would cry, and then they would all cry, and I would deliver a bus load of crying babies to anxious parents who would blame me. I could see it all coming down on me, so I said “Are you OK?”

One little boy looked at me with very wide eyes and said “Are you a rock star?” I am still laughing, and I am sure that was a blessing from God, from a humble source.

Yesterday, I went to a commercial driving school, where I teach truck drivers. This is another one of my retirement gigs. One man stood outside near the door and stared at me and he looked mean and angry. Then he called my name and I realized he always looked like that. He lives a hard life, and it makes him look hard. We talked for a while and he told me he had just passed his road test for his commercial license. I congratulated him, and then he said quietly “And I cried.”

Can you imagine an ugly industrial yard, filled with large trucks and trailers, and people who look like they belong there? Watch an episode of “Ice Road Truckers” to get the picture. And imagine one very hard man standing quietly and crying.

Because God blessed him.

From our conversation, I guess he did some desperation praying, and he got what he wanted, ‘the desires of his heart’ … his heart, not yours or mine. “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37: 4 and 5)

I am now convinced that God is real, and that He is always holding out good things for us to take. The disconnect is us. We are conditioned and taught to look at celebrities, famous and powerful people who need us for their own success, and we generally want to be successful like them. To many of us have forgotten how to accept a real blessing from God.

I am not the first one to say this:

This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1: 25 to 29)

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