This past Sunday (Nov. 26, 2017) we had the opportunity, as a church family, to list the gifts the Lord has given us. To count the blessings. To name them. One.by.one. I had the honor of sharing just a bit of how doing, just that, has been such a blessing, joy, and lifeline for me in the last 6 or so years. Below is what I wrote to say Sunday morning, though I only actually said a small fraction of it! At the end is the link to the song that we sang after I shared.
Anyone who has seen my Facebook page or has been around me long, knows the Lord has helped me develop the habit of naming and counting the gifts the He places in my life. I started this back in 2011, just as a way to give thanks. If I am honest, I didn’t really think too much about it at the time. There were hard moments, but nothing major. Life was good and counting was easy. I had no idea how the counting of gifts when life was good, was going to make it possible for me to keep searching. Keep looking. Keep counting the good gifts when the world seemed to be crashing down around me. When it became a struggle just to get out of bed in the mornings. When I inherited two titles I never thought I’d ever use: widow and single mom. Some of you even helped me create a space on my dining room for us to be able to list the gifts. It’s already been filled once and we had to start over.
Because, oh, counting all the gifts! How God has used that to keep me going. To keep turning my face to Him. To remind me that He is faithful. Loving. Patient. Compassionate. My provider. Healer. Redeemer. That He loves my children and cares for them better than any earthly father could. That He has always been there and will never leave. Counting all.the.things. is preaching the Gospel to myself in a practical, hands-on way. As I have done this, I have begun to see that, through God’s eyes, even the hard, ugly moments of life, are sweet, beautiful gifts from a loving Father.
We can be like the disciples in John 21. After a night of useless fishing, the Lord appears. They have no idea who He is, but he tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. And they pull in more fish than the net can hold. Yet, they count the fish. They count the fish. 153. And once they see and count the fish, there’s no doubt in their minds who that man on the shore is.
So what do we do when life is overwhelming? When we struggle to see His hand moving and working in our lives? As Ann Voskamp says, “You count fish. You pull in your life and you see that though you felt ripped open —- the net actually didn’t tear. That there’s grace in your net. And you actually count them.You make sure you count the fish. So you don’t have to ask who it is — You know it is the Lord. You count every single grace that He gave through the long dark night, and you see that there are more than 153. Far more than 153. It’s a feast! You just keep always counting the fish! It’s when you count blessings — you see Who can be counted on. It’s when you count the ways He loves, that your life multiplies joy. It’s a life that counts blessings — that discovers it’s yielding more than it seems. The secret to joy — is to keep seeking God where you doubt He is.” (Click HERE to read the beautiful blog post where you'll find this quote.)
Would you join us today in counting fish? Counting and naming the blessings, the good gifts the Lord has poured into your life? If you look to your right and left, you’ll notice some large canvases. As we sing this next song about the joy and hope and peace found in counting all.the.blessings. we want you to just go to the canvas, grab a marker, and start writing the blessings. You might have one, you might have two or three. You might need a few minutes to think about it, or you may not be able to get up fast enough to write what the Lord has done. However you are moved, write down your thanks as we spend these next few moments praising and worshiping God for being a God who moves. Who works. Who gives good gifts to His children.
Here are a few things our church family wrote down:
See that misspelled family? That was my son. Who, after I had made a comment in Sunday School about my kids being ungrateful, was the first person up, to the canvas, and to grab a marker to write down his thanks. God is good!