I have to admit that I have always had a problem with Christians saying that they were blessed. Before I was a Christian it sounded like an arrogant boast in an attempt to win me over to their way of thinking. What I was hearing them say when I asked how they were doing was 'I am doing far better than you because the creator of the universe loves me and is giving me my every whim. You should become a Christian and get in on this'.
Then when I became a Christian in November of 2003 what I heard when someone said they were blessed was "I have been following God's law very well and He has been rewarding me with earthly delights". As I matured in my faith I have developed a far more nuanced translation of the "I'm blessed" response.
There are for sure people who really do "measure blessings" based on how comfortable their lives are. This despite there being overwhelming evidence in the scriptures that God doesn't bless people in order to make them comfortable. For example Romans 8:17 says; we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. In Isaiah 55:8 God explains My thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways. In other words don't expect me to bless you the way you want me to bless you or how you you would bless someone you love if you were God.
Today was a huge reminder to me that God blesses me in ways I never would have dreamed! I was walking in the Vista section of Columbia after visiting some of my clients. I had about 30 minutes till my next meeting and decided to eat lunch at Black Bean Company because I'm trying to eat healthy and they make healthy taste good. Anyways a black man in his mid 30's approached me on Gervais street with the familiar greeting of someone who is about to hit me up for money. "Big man, yo big man let me ask you something". I was walking towards him but my wall was going up to tell him to bug off, I simply grunted "what". He said "I don't want your money or a ride. I don't drink or do drugs. I just got out of jail and I'm HIV positive and really hungry. Could you buy me something to eat"? I was startled by the HIV admission. My mind was scrambling. I tried to pray real quick and it was like God shut me down. "What do you think I want you to do for him"? So I said I was just going to lunch down here at a health food restaurant. Do you want to join me? He smiled and said yes sir!
The lady taking our order clearly didn't think we were together because I asked him if he was ready to order and he said not yet so I ordered first and she started to give me my total and I said hang on my friend hasn't ordered yet. He was confused by the whole thing and I honestly began to wonder if he could read. He eventually said "did yours have chicken? I'll get what he's having. She asked if he wanted to make it a combo and he said "I don't want to push my luck". I laughed and said let's make his a combo.
He told me his life story about being raised by a single mom. His older brother having Lupus. He dropped out of school in the 10th grade. He has 2 kids and an ex wife. He has been trying to turn his life around and support his kids but he was driving on a suspended licence when he got pulled over. He ended up in county jail for 67 days. His landlord threw away his possessions and his car has been impounded and is sitting there at a $25 a day penalty. In other words it's gone too. He got out this morning and has been asking people to buy him lunch for about 3 hours when I came along.
We talked about the scriptures. He said sitting in jail he had read the Bible and books about the Bible. (Maybe he could read after all). I could tell he had been studying them. He quoted some of his favorites. But more importantly was developing a real relationship with God. He said he realized that God had stripped away everything because he had been trying to shortcut the process. He had sold some drugs. Not often he said but just enough to make rent or car payments when his job in construction didn't quite pay as much that month. He said God wanted him to rely on Him. Allow Him to work miracles to prove He was in control and every time my new friend ruined that. "I have to trust God to provide me with everything" he said.
He had no place to go, no plans to move forward. He was just going to return to the street and beg for dinner he said. I made some calls and found him a shelter. I also found him a program that he can go and be assessed at tomorrow. He almost started crying. Then I gave him $40 and said I hope this helps. He really was in shock. I offered him a ride to the shelter which wasn't too far away so he said I can walk it. I said I know you can but you'll have plenty of time for walking the next few weeks, and we may never see each other again. So we rode together for a final 90 seconds or so. He said Kelly my cell phone is shut off but I hope to get it turned on again someday. I sure would like to talk to you again, Would you take my number? So now he's saved in my phone. I'm praying that God will work some more miracles in his life so that one day when I call he will answer.
I know he was blessed by the meal, the money and the conversation. But I think I was the one who was really blessed. And that what I mean when I say I love how God blesses me! If you had told me an hour earlier that a guy who just got out of jail, is going to approach you with a story about HIV, homelessness, and hunger, I would have asked how to avoid it. God's ways are not my ways, and I often don't want to follow His ways, but whenever I do He pours out the riches of heaven upon me. Thanks God!