In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Why Me, Lord?

To slightly paraphrase the old hit song by Kris Kristofferson:

Why me, Lord? What have I ever done to deserve even one of the [blessings] I've known?

Every day, I am astonished at all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on me: wise and loving parents; a sweet, patient wife who raised with me three fine children; reasonably good health; a stable, satisfying job; living in a free country . . . the list goes on and on. Of course, the greatest gift of all is God's infinite love in sending His Son into this world to live, teach, suffer, and die in ransom for my sins--the just for the unjust--so that I may live eternally in the company of Him and my loved ones. I don't think anyone has ever been more richly blessed than I.

I was reminded of that recently when my wife and I had the opportunity to travel from our home in upstate New York to Idaho, to spend a few weeks during the Christmas season helping our daughter Donna and son-in-law Jonathan care for their newborn twin children--their first, and our second and third grandchildren. These two came after years of trying, crying, and prayer by their parents, and were the most wonderful blessing (and Christmas presents) God could have given them.

Nothing has ever touched and engaged me more than holding those precious new babies in my arms, gazing into their bright, curious eyes, and even feeding and diapering them--whatever the hour!

Nothing has delighted me more than my wife Melany's beaming face as she embraced these little miracles, thanking the Lord for answering our children's prayers.

I was struck by how a loving and giving family like this is an echo of our Heavenly Father's relationship with us--how helpless and dependent on Him we are, how utterly selfless and infinitely generous He is toward us, even when we go astray. He would, and did, give his very life for us, just as our children would for theirs.

I feel so unworthy of His boundless grace. Of course, we can never be fully "deserving" of all God's blessings. If that were possible, we would be "earning" them through works in contravention of the teaching that salvation, like other blessings, comes by grace through faith--lest we should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9). "A faithful man shall abound with blessings" (Proverbs 28:20), and surely a steady faith in God and obedience to His commandments will bring those spiritual and familial blessings that the commandments were intended to secure to us, if not all the worldly benefits men desire.  I know that I am not always faithful to my heavenly calling, and I am too often disobedient. Yet God blesses me still, and remembering this keeps me in humble awe and deepest gratitude. If I never fully "deserve" His gifts, I can at least strive to live worthily of them.

While we were staying with Donna and Jonathan in Idaho, we watched the movie White Christmas. One of its best moments is Bing Crosby singing to Rosemary Clooney (and she singing back to him) the song "Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)."

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep
Counting my blessings

When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep
Counting my blessings
One of the things Crosby's character, an entertainer, wants most in life is to settle down and have a family. Thus the lines immediately following these is especially poignant:
I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
So, when I count my blessings, I'll always remember all my grandchildren's (someday) curly heads, resting on their pillows in slumber, and thank our Heavenly Father for them and for all the countless ways He's graced me with more than I'll ever deserve.

Liam Fleming

Brandon and Kate Randall