"God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways."
~ 2 Corinthians 9:9 (MSG)
When Deborah Shank asked us to comment on this paraphrased verse for the "In Other Words" writing meme, I didn't get any immediate inspiration. But then I read from my daily devotional schedule (this was yesterday), and came across this account:
Then they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you." And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!" But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"—then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." And he arose and departed to his house.
Yesterday I wrote a short story called, "The Gilded Box" which was inspired by that account. (Haven't read it yet? Please do, and then come back here. If you don't read it, you'll miss some of what I'm saying below.)
Ok, in case you're wondering, there really is a connection tying "The Gilded Box" with both of the quotes above. Having trouble finding it? Read on.
What's one of the "astonishing ways" that God pours out His blessings? The one that comes to my mind today is, "The packaging they come in."
Sometimes His blessings come in ugly packages. Oysters house pearls. Prison cells echo with joyous hymns. A feed trough nestles a savior.
The more we grow in Christ, the more we find that ugliness reminds us to look for Him.
But what do we do with the lovely packages He gives us? Do we become so distracted by their beauty that we never look inside?
Green lights when we're running late. Safe flights. Uncomplicated births. Cancer miraculously gone. Lame legs which leap up and run.
Should we thank Him for each blessing? Of course!
But do we remember to open up each gilded box and look at what's inside?
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead…but some time later, he died again. So did everyone else that Jesus ever healed. How many of them ever opened the treasure they'd received…ever found the message inside the golden miracle?
But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"—then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house."
The note inside the box…the meaning in the miracle is simply this: Jesus has the power to forgive sins. The miracles and blessings you can see point with unwavering fingers to the miracle you cannot see, and they offer assurance.
He who opened your eyes, He who softened your hard heart, He who healed your disease, He who created the beauty all around you…He also has the power to forgive sins. And because of the cleansing He provides, He can also give you an offer of marriage…the chance to be joined with him in engagement throughout this life, and in perpetual bliss throughout the only real Happily Ever After.
How many receive His gifts of common grace without ever looking inside the pretty packages for the offer of lifelong relationship hidden within? How tragic for them!
How many of us who already know Him still forget the greatest gift of all…His forgiveness and eternal love…because we're distracted by the pretty packaging of His earthly blessings?
Jesus forgives sins and offers His love to us forever!
When was the last time you felt astonished by that?
This week's "In Other Words" is hosted by Deborah Shank at Chocolate and Coffee. Drop by there to find links to other entries on the assigned quotation, or to add a link to your own!