Three For The Price of One…

The other day, I was driving home and it was a hot day so I thought to myself, “Some ice cream would be awesome right now.” Which is funny because if any of you know me you know that it could be 40 below zero outside and I would say the same thing. And actually, I’m just now realizing this as I’m writing is that my last post was an ice cream story too. So what you guys didn’t know when reading was that you’re getting a sneak peak into my love affair with ice cream. Anyways, I stopped to get some ice cream, and to make a long story short, there was a screw up with the ordering system and I ended up getting three ice cream cones for the price of one. And my initial thoughts were something along the lines of, “Awesome, praise God. That’s favor and blessing right there. Hallelujah!”

And for the 20 feet that it took me to drive from the first window where I paid to the second window where I was given my cones, I just couldn’t believe my luck. I mean, who wouldn’t be stoked about three ice creams for the price of one? But then once I was handed three cones in the 95 degree August heat with nobody else in the truck to help me eat or hold them; well, let’s just say that things got real really quick. Things were melting, and falling over in my cup holder. I’m trying to drive with my knee to get out of the way of the drive through traffic and it actually got hectic for a brief moment.

Naturally, my immediate thoughts while this situation was transpiring was that there has to be a blog post in there somewhere. So here is my attempt at taking my snafu experience of getting ice cream and trying to bless you guys with it.

What happened to me that day when I was getting ice cream was that I wasn’t equipped to handle the blessing that was bestowed upon me. That is, I did not have the means to manage everything that was handed to me and because of that it became overwhelming and hectic. I wished that I wouldn’t have been given all of that free ice cream. Which I know sounds absolutely blasphemous, but it’s true. I realized that I wasn’t able to maintain what had been given to me so I wished that I had never received it in the first place.

So the thought hit me, how many times does this happen in real life? How often is a great thing given to people when they weren’t prepared to manage it and what ended up happening is that gift or blessing or resource or whatever was eventually lost because of the inability to maintain what had been given? Or even more interesting of a question, how often do we pray to receive a blessing but not prepare our hearts to be able to manage that blessing if it were to manifest and become reality?

That second question happens a lot more than we care to admit as Christians. We pray for blessing and provision, we pray for healing, we pray for breakthrough, we pray to receive but then we never actually prepare our hearts to receive. And the reality is that we never possess the full ability to maintain a blessing given to us by God. That takes a co-laboring effort (which I plan on writing about soon) with God. We have to work alongside God to be able to use the blessing that He gives us. It’s a partnership not just something that He gives you good things then you run around trying to use them to the best of your abilities. God blesses and then his presence maintain the power and effectiveness of the blessing. Be we have to prepare our hearts to work alongside with God in that manner. We have to align ourselves with the things of the Kingdom to be able to maintain the blessings that God gives us.

We need to be diligent to prepare our hearts in this way to receive the blessings that God has for us, otherwise, those things might just stay blessings in the spiritual realm that were meant to materialize but we never see in the physical realm because our hearts weren’t prepared to handle the weight of Glory that comes along with those blessings. And I’m going to make a bold statement here, honestly, this statement is the reason I’ve been late on publishing this post because it’s bold and quite frankly messes with my theology a little bit but I’m going to be brave and believe that God will use it to speak to someone and if I’m wrong then God will use it to teach me something. The statement is this: Sometimes, God would rather see you struggle than to see you crushed beneath the weight of a burden that was supposed to be a blessing.

I’m going to say it again, so hone in on it. Sometimes, God would rather see his child struggle than to see them carry something that was supposed to be a blessing but they weren’t equipped to handle and would bring them more harm than good to possess. Now, to be clear, that is not necessarily anywhere in scripture, at least not anywhere I have found, but that is my interpretation and conclusion of real life situations and applied scriptures through those situations. So hang tight with me and I’ll try and unpack this for us.

I really struggled with this because if somebody only read to that point in the article they might be inclined to think that what I was saying is that God would rather see them struggle than to bless them in a way that would propel them out of their struggling, and that’s not the picture of God that I want to paint. I believe in an all loving God that dearly loves and wants to bless His children beyond their wildest dreams. I believe that 100%. But there’s more in play than God simply wanting to bless His children abundantly and that is the sinful heart of man and what we would do with that blessing. And just as a disclaimer, I believe that the reason that God sometimes holds on to blessings rather than releasing them when we’re not ready for is because if He were to release those blessings at the wrong time, we would have the tendency to make that blessing our God rather than God himself. So out of love, God waits for the opportune time and in the meantime He simply drawers us in with His love until we reach a place where we are close enough to Him to co-labor with Him and are ready to manage what He has for us. So in my mind, which ever way you cut it, the destination is still the love of God for His children. You can’t cut the pie anyway that the outcome denies that God loves his children and wants greater things for us than we want for ourselves.

So I’m going to use an illustration (other than ice-cream) to try and make this a little more clear because I feel like it’s pretty dangerous to cut it off there. This illustration is going to be about money, but I want to be clear that the blessings I’m referring to don’t just include financial, I’m referring to blessings all across the board; but money is easy to use as an illustration because it’s something that almost everyone can relate to, so here it goes:

If I’m a poor manager of money, whether that looks like me being a poor steward of my money, or if I am a binge shopper, or careless spender, or just overall bad with money; then having $10 million probably wouldn’t be best utilized in my hands because I wouldn’t be able to use it to it’s full potential. That is, you can turn $10 million into something a lot bigger than just $10 million. Something that won’t diminish, something that would build on itself and grow. But if I’m bad with money, I don’t know the first thing about investing and letting my money make me more money, nor do I care. I have $10 million, therefore, I’m rich and have no need to worry about money anymore. But if I have no self control over my spending and no ability to manage that resource wisely, I’m probably just going to squander it. We see it happen in the real world more frequently than not with lottery winners. They have this huge lump sum of money dropped in their lap and then they go and spend it on a whole bunch of things that they can’t maintain and then they end up in a worse situation financially than before they won the lottery. Some lotto winners even end up homeless for a time when before they won the lottery they at least had a roof over their heads.

So what happens? They have a blessing bestowed on them that they aren’t equipped to handle and the weight of that blessing left them in a worse situation than before. But let’s take it to the bible and get some sciptural evidence. I don’t want to be any kind of authority unless that authority can be found in scripture.

In Acts 12:21-23 it says, “Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them [his people who were angry at him]. And the people we shouting, ‘The voice of a God, and not of a man!’ Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.” (ESV)

So what we see here in the preceding verses, is that Herod’s people are coming before him angry, and God gifted Herod with great diction and the ability to speak and he delivers this speech to his people and their chants of anger towards him get turned to chants of praise saying, “the voice of a god, the voice of a god!” And Herod, accepted their chants, not with humility but with pride so he was struck dead by an Angel of the Lord.

This is an example of somebody being buried by the weight of their gift. Herod was gifted to be able to move a crowd in a manner that took them from hating him to calling him a God and praising him. That’s an incredible gift, however, he died because of his inability to mange that gift. He was killed because he used that gift and allowed people to elevate him in their minds to a place of equivalence with God. He managed His gift poorly and used it in a manner other than what was intended. He was expected to give glory to God because that was the purpose of the gift, to glorify God. But Herod used it as a perversion of its original purpose and used it to glorify himself. We see it also with numerous kings throughout the Old Testament. The Kings and Chronicles are littered with accounts of Kings raised up to a position of authority and kingship who don’t finish well in their rule because they don’t manage their gift well. Their gifting ends up being their demise.

So what I’m suggesting is this, God wants to bless us beyond our wildest dreams. Psalm 37:4 (ESV) confirms that He wants to give us the desires of our hearts. It’s true, it’s right there in the Bible. But what God doesn’t want to do is hand us a blessing that we’re not ready to handle and have it turn into a burden that will bury us deeper.

So what’s the real application of this? We need to be diligent to prepare our hearts for the blessings that God wants to bestow on us. Be faithful to steward what we have and present ourselves as ones approved (2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)). He who is faithful with little will be given much (Matthew 25:21 (ESV)). I could rattle verses all day to reinforce the point. The scripture is there to back it up, it just takes some humility to admit that we need to grow ourselves in some areas to prepare our hearts to receive blessing and then we need some discernment to hear the voice of God in the season of growth.

If you’re in a season of waiting to receive blessing, if you’re praying for financial provision, grow yourself in the area of managing and stewarding your finances. If you’re praying for your marriage to be restored, grow yourself in the art and privilege of loving someone more than yourself. If you’re praying for deliverance of addiction then grow yourself in the area of being modest and by seeking out your identity in Christ and experiencing the high that comes from living life with him.

To every dysfunction that exists in our hearts, minds, lives, etc. there is an antithesis that springs forth directly from the Kingdom. Whatever the dysfunction, if we are praying for blessing to overcome that dysfunction, then we need to be diligent to prepare our hearts to receive that blessing and operate outside of that dysfunction. God is faithful, but the first part of that verse in Psalm 37 is to delight ourselves in the Lord, and then he will give us the desires of our hearts. Delighting ourselves in the Lord solves so many heart issues that it opens up an entire new world for us to be able to receive blessings. So delight yourself in the Lord, that is, delight yourself in the things of the Lord. Not just checking off a box to make sure your covered but actually placing Kingdom values and principles above all else. This is the key to preparing our hearts to receive the things that the Lord has for us.

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