We interrupt your regularly scheduled life to bring you these recent events and lessons:
As probably most of you are already aware, Friday night brought a sizable storm that traveled across quite a few communities, downing many trees and leaving many homes and establishments without power. My house was one of these places.
One feature of my house worth noting (during a power outage at least) is that the well pump needs electricity to operate, meaning no running water, not to mention no electric lighting or climate control. Staying in our powerless home didn’t strike me as unbearable, but my family decided to accept the gracious invitations of our friends who were still blessed with electricity, so we visited a few homes. We shared a meal or two, slept over once of twice, and just spent some quality time together with them. We were also repeatedly told that we could stay for as long as we needed to (and longer).
Our church was also out of power, so Sunday morning found us out under the sunlight-lit trees and birdsong of a graciously offered backyard. Our acoustic accompanied worship mingled with the birds’ that morning as we both sang to one Creator. We listened from our lawn chairs to a sermon on a hillside, from a well-known passage of the Sermon on the Mount. “Salt’s value is in its saltiness,” said our guest preacher, with one hand holding open his Bible to the book of Matthew and the other hand holding his notes down from the wind’s pull. “And light’s value is in its being seen.” During the communion that followed, one of our elders talked briefly about how God sometimes likes to allow interruptions to our plans, our schedules, our lives, so that we may dwell all the more on Him, and appreciate Him more.
Later, we had a short congregational meeting followed by a picnic, with many good-natured conversations and much laughter (“So, where do you belong today in the great crowd of have’s and have-not’s?”). Then came clean-up, hauling some chairs, tables, and communion plates back to the church, and a number of us headed out to some of the homes of a few families whose houses had been completely waylaid by fallen branches (and even tree trunks) to help clean-up.
A few days before the storm took away the blessings of Internet and computer, I noticed an issue on my desktop. Whenever I tried to view a video of any kind online — be it a dance video, Skit Guys sketch or random Youtube creation — my computer wouldn’t allow me to watch it, probably due to lack of some new Flash Player thingummy that needed to be installed. Undaunted, I still went to website after website for entertainment that I knew would never happen; and without fail, I would be disappointed.
And yet, I never went to my dad and asked him to help me fix it. Because I knew that videos are the number one reason I waste away my life while on the computer, especially while on the web. Are all videos evil, and a gross waste of time? No. But where these miniature black holes were concerned, I had largely forgotten the virtue of temperance and moderation. And even though my flesh continually and futilely drove me back to those websites, it was ultimately a relief to not have that drive gratified.
Oftentimes, during major trials and even minor inconveniences, we tell ourselves and one another, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away” (or for the more solemn types, “doth taketh away”). Without fail (at least when I’ve heard that quote), the giving refers to blessing and the taking away refers to the taking away of blessings (even though God assuredly can and does take away things like disease, injury, heartache, etc.). And yet I’ve found that God can also most certainly bless us by taking away the very things that we perceive to be, and may well actually be, blessings. Electricity, running water, air-conditioning, Internet and online videos may be blessings in their own way (generally speaking). But taking a break, however involuntary, from these conveniences for the sake of other things, such as the opportunity to spend time with good friends, is also assuredly a blessing to be thankful for.
Another blessing that I often find slipped in is a heightened appreciation of the blessing that was taken away. We never did use any salt to preserve the food in our refrigerator (as they did in the old days, when salt was considered much more valuable than it is now), but we did use quite a few portable lights to compensate for not having our usual lighting when it got dark. You’d be surprised at how much you appreciate having even just a tiny light to guide your way when the space before you is cloaked in blackness. Running water and air-conditioning are definitely also things that you appreciate much more when you don’t have them than when you do.
We saw some crews working on the power lines outside our neighborhood earlier today, and by evening we had electricity and all of its conveniences once more. I’m grateful for the return of these small blessings (especially running water); but at the same time, I feel many times more richly blessed to have gone without these little things for a short, short while, to better enjoy the company of friends.
Wishing you and your family every blessing (be it convenience or interruption),
P.S. Many, many people are still hard at work because of all the downed trees and power lines. And from what I last heard, 13 people lost their lives during that storm. Their families are in need of prayer, so regardless of how your family is faring right now, please do not forget them.
P.P.S. In case you were wondering: no, this post was not in my neat little planned progression of posts; but some interruptions are worth making.
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“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.
An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.”
~ G.K. Chesterton
“A blessing is often only an interruption rightly considered.
An interruption is a blessing wrongly considered.”