To bless is one of those concepts that can take quite a bit of working out to define it in our own minds. A while ago I was asked what "bless" meant by a class of people for whom English is a second language. It took quite a bit of thought before I could give them a reasonable answer.
In Acts 3 we have a very good example of the way God blesses us. If you have tried to define what it means to be blessed for yourself, you may find that this blessing pushes the boundaries of your definition. Often our definitions often consist of being given good things, made prosperous, healthy or strong, having good relationships or any other good thing we might want. The blessing here is different. "When God raised up his servant (Jesus), he sent him first to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways." (Acts 3 v 26) This blessing does not consist of getting good things, but rather that we are changed in preparation for an eternal blessing.
At the time the methods God employs to help us change may not seem like a good thing – they might even seem quite painful – as far from a blessing as we can imagine. But in the end we will look back on the changes God has brought on us and will realise how richly he has blessed us by turning us from our evil ways.
New Thinky Things every day!
Let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance...
Proverbs 1 v 5
Retelling it later became the source of considerable amusement, but at the time it caused some consternation. It was an evening in our early married years. Robert had organised a date night out, which we were both looking forward to after a long days work. The plan was for a romantic dinner out, before going out to a movie that we had wanted to watch.
We arrived at our dinner venue. Well, so we thought, but as we gazed long and hard at the building, we could not escape the fact that attractive as it looked on the outside, it was, nonetheless, a dry-cleaners shop! Robert was so embarrassed. "I was sure it was a restaurant," he said. "I've driven past it many times, and thought that it would be a nice place to eat..."
Well, it became obvious that there would be no source of dinner there, so we drove down the road to KFC and ate our takeaways in the car. We brightened up with the thought that at least we would get to see the movie!
We arrived promptly after that at the movie theatre. It was strangely empty of people in the lobby. We approached the person behind the counter to ask for tickets to our movie. He looked at us dubiously. "That movie started an hour ago," he informed us.
On the bright side, we did get home for an early night instead!
Information is a valuable thing. For one thing, the correct information would have ensured that our evening out could have happened as planned. But because we didn't have the right information, the evening turned out very differently. Over the years there have been two main things that have had the most positive influence in our marriage. Of those two, one has been information and knowledge. For many years, I in particular, just stumbled through married life without bothering to up-skill in this area. What an incredible difference it made once I started to seek out information!
We started to attend marriage enrichment courses, which helped us get to know each other better. Through those courses we found out many thoughts, feelings and preferences that we otherwise probably would not have communicated with each other on. We started to read books on marriage (about 40 at the last count, and still going). We have read up on a variety of different aspects of marriage and studied other information about the nature of men and women in general. It has been such an amazing source of enlightenment.
Just as a coffee group helps young mum's to find out what is "normal" in their babies, so this information has helped us find out what is quite often common for married couples and genders. It has made such an amazing difference. We understand each other better - both personally and generically.
Knowledge is certainly worth it's weight in gold. But then comes the tricky bit - putting into practice what we learn!