In the hymn “Count Your Blessings” there’s a phrase: “name them one by one.” If you’re like me, I have stopped on occasion and done just that – start naming my blessings one by one. First, there are the significant people in my life. Second, comes my house, my pets, the food on the table. Then comes my job, my income, my coworkers, you get the idea. Counting your blessings becomes a time-consuming effort as there is no way we can enumerate all the blessings that we are given to us each and every day. What about the air we breathe and each breath of life we take? How about the steps we take or the senses we are able to experience?
Recently I went on a mission trip to Guiamaca, Honduras. We provided village clinics and surgeries within the compound where we stayed. As I encountered the poverty and dire conditions of the people we served, it wasn’t hard to be reminded how blessed I was as an American. And yet I could see the love of Christ shine through the smile of a single mother living in a tin-roofed two-room dwelling with her adobe oven sitting outside. Her blessings were different than mine. Her blessings included the bags of rice and beans that were brought to her that day or the bucket of water that was provided from the water truck. Maybe it was a chicken and her chicks that roamed freely pecking the hard-packed dirt in the front yard. Or it may have been the prayer we prayed on her behalf as Christian sisters and brothers. Visiting another country especially a third-world country always makes me re-examine the blessings I so easily take for granted.
I realized that “one by one” blessings could be the provision needed just for that moment like a meal or an unpaid bill that is past due or the “one by one” blessings could be the accumulated blessings that lead to an ultimate unveiling such as a job promotion or a marriage. Regardless, they are from God and we should express our gratitude for them.
While in Honduras I experienced an unexpected blessing when I encountered a young man named Gregory who expressed a desire to learn how to read music. He was an accomplished musician who could play eight instruments but he had no knowledge of how to read notes having played by ear all of his young life. He voluntarily taught pre-teens in his church how to play in order to maintain the tradition of worship. I offered to teach him if he were willing to come to my compound after 7 pm each night, which he gladly accommodated. For four straight nights, we spent several hours learning notes, rests, time signatures, key signatures, and scales. By the end of our sessions, Gregory could play a song with both hands and understand the mechanics of reading any music. Indeed, we were both “surprised at what the Lord had done” as the hymn so aptly boasts. Not only that, but my interpreter could elaborate on my teaching as both of his parents were music teachers! He confessed learning a thing or two as well. By the time our week was over and it was time for me to go home, we all ended up learning something we didn’t know before we started. Looks like I have another blessing I can add to my list now- one that I didn’t plan for. The best kind! Do you have an unplanned blessing you’d like to share that you didn’t plan for?