Sunday, December 7, 2008

Inherited Blessings/Stored Blessings

I had an ah-HA moment the other day about something I've contemplated for years. You know the Scripture about getting back what you give? Well, there are several Scriptures; one is in Luke 6:38. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Anyway, my parents once gave away our station wagon to a big family in our church. It amazed me at the time, because we lived in the country with a garden and chickens, a lot of my clothes were homemade to save money, and Dad was a blue collar worker. How could we afford to give away a car? But they gave it away instead of using it as a trade-in for another used car.

David, the son in the family and one year younger than me, remembers the time my parents gave his parents that car and how much it meant to them. I remembered that verse the first time I was given a car -- that's when my husband walked away from our marriage, leaving me with two children and a dead minivan (the engine was blown). I asked at church if someone could look at my van and tell me if it was fixable, and instead they found a car for me. God never gave my parents a free car, but they never had a need to be given one. It seems to me that I inherited their blessing. That first car lasted a year before having a meltdown in the church parking lot. Then I was blessed with a minivan that ran reliably for 3 years, followed by another minivan that lasted longer because I could afford the repairs. (When I say the church gave me a car, I should clarify to say they located a church member willing to donate one, much like my parents donated one.) I call receiving gifts based on my parents’ giving inherited blessings.

Recently it dawned on me that some other giftings also came because of giving. I hadn't thought of it before, but when my former husband and I were DINKs (Double Income, No Kids), we used to choose names from the Angel Tree and buy Christmas gifts for needy kids. We had so much fun getting all the things on their wish lists! We never set a dollar amount to spend; we shopped until we were satisfied that these unknown-to-us kids were going to have a great holiday.

Fast forward to the lean years of no husband or steady income. Suddenly it's MY kids getting Christmas gifts from anonymous people in our church, and sometimes I got gifts too! At the time I remember crying because I wanted to be the one shopping for presents (my love language is gifts); I mean, I appreciated it, but it wasn't until now that I realized that I was getting back what I had given! I call this stored blessings.

Not only had we fulfilled children’s wish lists, we had also enjoyed blessing people with food. I remember buying groceries for a family and leaving the bags on a table in the little church we went to. That table was where you could leave things for other people, like leaving veggies from your garden for anyone who wanted them. We participated in a couple of food poundings back then too. We were so tickled to share what we had. Additionally, I was on the church meal list to take meals to families that had a surgery or a new baby, things like that.

Would you be surprised to learn that during my lean years I received food "baskets" for Thanksgiving? They are always cardboard boxes, and one year I received two box loads of all kinds of food; there were always things in there that were family favorites. Looking through those boxes was always exciting! I wanted to pull things out and cry, "How did you KNOW??" Then one Thanksgiving a lady from church that I didn't even know called and offered to deliver a homecooked turkey dinner with all the trimmings! I almost turned her down, but then I realized that her gift would free up time to spend with my mother who was visiting. My mom was so blessed by all the food that was prepared for us that she went home telling everyone about it!

It amazes me to think that all I have received is a result of either my parents or my earlier habit of giving. It was such a blessing to remember all this and to think that God's Word is true, that you really do get back what you give. Sometimes the blessings return to you, and sometimes the blessing is passed down to your kids as an inheritance.

Times are tough this year. People are hurting, and the charities set up to help them are hurting as well. I hope you will find a way to bless someone else this month. Involve your kids as well, teaching them that it is a blessing to give, whether it’s a monetary gift, groceries, or your time. Besides the joy of blessing others, you may build up stored blessings for yourself and/or inherited blessings for your children. Give, and it shall be given unto you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.

Celebrate God’s love, share God’s blessings, now and throughout the year. Why would we want to do less?

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