When I waited tables, I remember the reason I was there most days was to make money. Yes, over time you grow to love the business and the people, but you do have to pay the rent, right? This is why it would frustrate the heck out of me when management would make the waitstaff clean the joint. Wiping down windows and walls… Deep cleaning tea urns… Polishing silverware and brass fixtures… pain in the neck.
Ever polish or deep clean something? Never noticed how dirty it was before that, right? (“Won’t this stuff just come off?!“) Ever look at it when you’re done and think – “Wow, that looks a whole lot better”? Then, someone comes barreling around the corner with a mess in their hands and you kind of guard your well polished treasure… “You must not tarnish my precious!!!
Deep cleaning things frustrates me almost as much as fake platitudes, especially people who quip scripture at you when you’re having a hard time. “God works all things for the good… Count your blessings…”
Shut it, preacher.
For this reason, I stopped counting my blessings years ago and I’m recommending you do so, too. Yes, I’ll explain. But, first, a word or two from scripture:
Stones had a lot of uses in the Old Testament culture, one was to mark occasions and events, like the 12 stones set at the Jordan River when Joshua led the nation across on dry land. The goal of having those stones there was not so that they could be counted. The goal of having those stones there was so the nation of Israel could remember God’s miracle and faithfulness as He ushered them into the promised land with supernatural fanfare. If I were one of those Israelites who saw the previous generation die off in the desert and then watched the Jordan river pile up in heaps while 2-3 million of us crossed over with the Ark of the Testimony, I’d probably go back from time to time and polish those stones, telling my kids and grandkids how crazy it was to see not just a sea part, but a rushing river stop in its tracks!!!
A few years ago, Cristine and I were struggling with some tough issues and people in our life. It seemed though we were doing what God called us to do and standing for His truth, we were encountering harsh resistance from people who should have been cheering us on. We were truly “wear in doing good”. My mentor gave us incredibly practical and helpful advice – “time to start polishing up some of the monuments og God’s faithfulness in your life.”
While temptation begs us to believe that if God is empowering us to do something, it’ll be easy-breezy. While God may call and empower us to climb a mountain with a 500 lb pack, He might help lighten the load, but it doesn’t mean we won’t be achy and out of breath at the summit. Weary can come with doing good. We must not lost perspective by ignoring the monuments of His faithfulness, much less minimizing them by only tallying them up. Counting blessings gives glory to God, but how much more when we pause for a moment or a season and examine every curve, chink, and line in the stone set up in remembrance? How much greater is our context and appreciation during strife when we think of the minute, clear detail of the miracles God has performed in the past.
May we not stop short by merely counting our blessings. May we pause and think back to the great, awesome details of God’s faithfulness in our past, even our present. May we not grow weary in doing good. Yet, if we do, if we become tarnished by the gunk of life and doing good in a broken world, let us be refreshed by God as He restores us to the joy of His salvation. May we reap a harvest in due time because by His power, we did not give up.
Much agape to ya.