A decade ago I lived in Pennsylvania and attended a conference in Harrisburg, PA where John and Carol Arnott were speaking. John shared about a horse they were given as a gift. The horse was somewhere in the USA and they lived in Toronto Canada–a great distance away. Eventually the horse got sick and died, and what the Lord showed them was that because they did not embrace the blessing, the enemy was able to come in and kill the horse.
What struck me about this wasn’t so much that the enemy came in and stole–because stealing is an expected action for the enemy. What struck me was that embracing the blessing wasn’t based on embracing something that was convenient, but rather embracing the gift someone was giving whether it was a gift they wanted to receive or not.
A few years ago I had occasion to put this into practice. My father in law had been living with us for a while and was deeply enthralled with Jimmy Swaggart–to the point that anyone who believed in Jesus but didn’t belive in the message of the cross according to Jimmy Swaggart wasn’t really saved at all. It was a frustrating time to be sure, as he got upset when no one wanted to talk about God with him and we simply didn’t want to be insulted every time he discussed God-related things.
One day he gave me a Jimmy Swaggart study bible. I, knowing that under no circumstances ever was I going to read or use this book, politely declined it–multiple times. He was very hurt by this, clearly not understanding why I didn’t want it and convinced that if I gave it a chance that this book would deeply and profoundly transform my life. I was frustrated and didn’t understand how in the many conversations we had up to that point he didn’t understand that I was not interested.
As I thought about it later that day, I remembered the message John Arnott had given–and realized this was an opportunity to embrace the blessing. While I might not prefer the actual item itself, I realized it was irrelevant. The essence behind the gift was a spiritual inheritance from my father in law, and he was attempting to pass down a blessing to someone who had married into his family. I apologized and asked if he would still be willing to gift me the Bible, to which he delightedly jumped up and gave it to me, grinning from ear to ear.
Yet another time I was walking home from work and met a homeless man whom I felt drawn to. I offered him some food I had on hand, to which he replied he wasn’t hungry. As we talked, he offered me some water. While I didn’t really want the water from his canteen, I accepted and he poured me a cup. As I drank the water, I brought out some food and offered to share it with him–and because I had accepted his gift he felt free to accept mine as well. I didn’t realize it until it happened, but was important to him that he wasn’t accepting a handout, so when I received his cup of water it made it acceptable for him to receive something from me as well. Moreover, my wife and I delivered additional food and a blanket to him later that night which he also graciously received–and even mentioned that he had hoped I would return.
There are times in our lives where we refuse a gift and it is right to do so, but there are other times when to refuse the gift is more problematic than it is to receive it–as was seen both with my father in law and the man I met on the street. If we can learn to embrace the blessings behind undesired gifts I believe we will not only reap unexpected rewards, but what we sow we will also reap–and the same grace that we extend to others will be extended to us as well. I believe that when we extend love to the giver and accept these undesirable gifts, we put ourselves in a position to receive more of God’s blessings in our own lives. I pray this message of embracing the blessing will both touch and remain with you as it has with me these many years.