Maybe some of you don’t know this about me, but growing up as a kid in Columbus, Ohio, my family went to church pretty regularly. My home church is a place called Madison Christian Church, and I’m very thankful for a lot of stuff that happened to me while I was there. It was a place where I gained a solid foundation in my faith. Later on in my college years when I went through a bit of a rough patch in terms of my sense of calling in being a worship leader, it was a place where I was able to ease back into ministry with people I knew and loved.
I don’t remember a ton of specifics about any particular church service at Madison, but I do remember our pastor giving a message where he talked about a worship leader who went to Honduras, and in his time there was asked to lead worship at a church service in a Honduran leper colony. As he finished one of the songs, a lady raised a leprosy-stricken hand and asked the worship leader, “Can we sing ‘Count Your Many Blessings’ together?” We don’t sing that hymn at Suncrest, but the chorus lyrics say:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
That story always stuck with me. It’s a reminder that no matter what pit life has us in, we need to count the blessings that God has provided for us. In tough times, it’s easy to complain. Anyone can do that. What sets Christ followers apart is the ability to see God’s hand at work in any and every situation, no matter how dire or difficult it may seem.
This weekend, on my way back from South Bend to visit with a family from my home church who live out there now, my transmission in my car totally gave out about 30 miles away from the Region on 80/90 West. To say I was angry would be an understatement. I had just gotten my car towed and repaired last week for a bad alternator. When my transmission gave out, I knew I was facing a $2000+ repair, which I don’t think any of us would be very excited about. I had an important meeting to go to for school in Cincinnati the very next day, and now I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to get there. This all goes without mentioning that I was missing my family, and now I felt even more alone, stranded 30 miles away from everyone I know here at Suncrest.
But in the midst of that, I knew that God wanted me not to focus on the stuff I hated about my situation, but instead to count the blessings I had. While I was waiting on Bobby Jackson to pick me up, I made a list of a few things in my head that I could be thankful to God for:
- I am thankful for the way in which my situation happened. Things could have been a lot worse. When my transmission gave out and I only had my forward momentum to propel me along, I just happened to be passing a rest area on the side of the freeway, and I had just enough momentum to get off at that exit and park my car there instead of on the side of the road. Furthermore, it was actually a really nice day, and there was still afternoon sunlight… I would have been way more stressed and panicked had it been in the dark. And thankfully, I was only about 30-40 minutes away from Suncrest. It wasn’t too incredibly far away where I couldn’t get back, or at least get someone to come and pick me up.
- I am thankful for my dad and mom. When I pulled over on the side of the road, I was just a nervous wreck. I was now stranded away from home, and my head was running at a million miles a second and I didn’t know what to do. So what did I do? I called my dad. And immediately, with calm and cool that was elusive to me, dad helped me think through what to do next and how to handle things. He was on the road, but he called my mom and got her to get a phone number for a towing service for me in like 30 seconds. Without my dad, I probably would still be stranded on the side of the road at this point. This, of course, goes without mentioning that they’re probably going to bear the brunt of a $2000 repair and register nary a complaint with me about it.
- I am thankful for Bobby (and Beka) Jackson. I couldn’t get a hold of the tow service, so I still had no way to get home. But I called Bobby, and sure enough, he was willing to drop whatever he was doing and come to pick me up on a Sunday evening that I’m sure he would have been much happier spending with his family. I’m extremely thankful for that. And then, to top things off, Bobby and Beka loaned me their car to use for the next little while while I wait on my car to get repaired. Words can’t express how thankful I am for that.
To you, it’s probably not the coolest or sexiest (are you allowed to use that word on the Cultivate blog?) lists. But to me, it was kind of cool to do that, especially in a moment of difficulty and disappointment. I’d definitely encourage you to do the same thing today, regardless of your situation in life. Thinking of the ways in which God has blessed us can always be a really great Cultivate exercise.