I never realized what

Published 11:57 am Friday, May 30, 2008

Hartland and Manchester

Evangelical Lutheran churches

I have been vividly reminded of something over the recent months. Lately I have realized more intently that we all should take time to cherish day by day the blessings we have rather than waiting until they are gone to appreciate them.

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This realization has come about through a number of different situations. Certainly the most impact for me personally was the death of my father a little over a year ago. His departure to heaven left a vacant area within my heart and life. His comment to me, “ I have waited a long time to see God and when I do, don’t be sad” definitely softened his passing. Yet I am no longer able to call him and visit about the family beekeeping business, his health, our family, our Christian faith or anything else that came into the conversation. I realize even more now what a blessing I previously had.

Several men of the congregations I serve — or my friends — have had their wives pass away from disease or other causes. A couple of these have been at relatively young ages. In speaking with them, I have been reminded of the tremendous blessing I still have in my lifelong companion-my wife. She and I are still able to share daily life experiences both good and bad. We are able to work as a team to maneuver the complexities and struggles of life, whether they be emotional, financial, spiritual or other. We can ‘bounce ideas’ off each other. We can encourage, compliment or comfort each other, depending on the situation. And what is truly a treasure-we can share countless memories from more than 46 years of knowing each other, with 41 of those being as husband and wife. What a blessing that is! I still have these blessings. Some of the men I mentioned do not.

How often do we take time, however to reflect upon such things? And how frequently don’t we take such things for granted! I’m afraid we all too often fail to realize what we really have until it is gone.

Unfortunately this same holds true of our spiritual blessings. Those of us who are Christians (believing in the only true God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — and trusting in Jesus Christ as our complete Savior from sin) can over the years become complacent and start taking our spiritual treasurers for granted. Oh for sure, when God first leads a person to faith and they comprehend their full forgiveness for all sins through faith in Jesus, there is ecstatic joy! The freedom from guilt and the immensity of God’s mercy are cherished for the treasurers they are!

However, over the years they can become “expected” and a loss of appreciation can set in. But what if-what if-these blessings were lost? Dr. James Dobson of “Focus On The Family” tells of an instance from the life of his Father. In his high school years his father had an intense inner struggle over his choice of professions. He was an excellent artist and desperately wanted to major in art in college. However, he felt an urgent inner call from God to be a minister. This struggle reached a climax one day and he looked up to heaven and shouted, “I won’t do it! The price is too great!

His mother came home a short while later and found him pale and almost “in shock.” She inquired what had happened and he informed her, “God has left me.” She commented that this was probably only his imagination and that they should pray about it. They knelt in prayer and his mother soon commented, “Something is wrong, this isn’t working.” He said, “Mother, I told you. God left me.”

What a feeling of loss! What a feeling of fear! What a realization of the treasure he previously had & now no longer possessed. Having God as his constant companion and now being alone!

He continued on to college and was walking down the aisle to get his diploma for his degree in art when the words raced through his mind, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it.” (Psalm 127:1) He was, you see, doing this “without God” and just on his own. He worked several years trying to scrape out a living, but failed. He finally gave in to God and began studying for the ministry. He became a Christian pastor, served faithfully for many years and of course used his artistic talents in many ways. But now he truly cherished his renewed relationship with his now constant companion: God! And what a privilege he realized it is to speak to God in prayer and have him listen instead of turning a deaf ear!

So, take a few moments from time to time to cherish your many blessings! If God has given you a faith in Him as the one and only true God and in Jesus Christ as your complete Savior from sin, treasure that faith! If you bow in prayer and know that God is listening, treasure that prayer! If you know that through the sacrifice and perfect life of Jesus Christ, an everlasting inheritance in heaven is yours, treasure that salvation! If you are blessed with a faithful marriage partner, treasure that partner!

There are others who once had those blessings and have lost them. They would quickly remind you, as one of my good friends told several of us recently, “Cherish your wives! You never know when they might not be there any more.”

Yes indeed! Let’s cherish these treasures now! Let your spouse, family, friends know how much they mean to you. Don’t wait too long and then regretfully have to say, “I never realized what I had until it was gone.”