When I was a kid we read the Bible—all of us—kids, parents, teachers, and preachers. I don’t know about the reading habits of the town bum, but I know that he was the recipient of the generosity inspired by God’s love. The local café where we ate on some very rare occasions always had a bowl of soup for the old man I thought of as our town bum. The café owner was just as kind and respectful of him as he was toward us. I never saw the café owner in the church where we attended, but back then I thought everyone believed in God even if they weren’t Baptist.
At one point in my mentality, I thought that the Jewish people had it made because of the benediction that God gave to the priests in order to place His name on the people of Israel:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).
I knew the scripture that I translated into my own words: If God is on your side, who can be against you? In my estimation, those Israelites had it made. And then I read Exodus by Leon Uris. Oh boy! I never knew that such horrors could be perpetrated upon man by his fellow man. And then I began to doubt that I had any understanding at all of God or what He meant by blessings.
Growing up we all thought that the United States was something special—still think that way. But I wondered why we succeeded in whatever we did when other nations seemed to have a hard go of it—more so than we did, at any rate. It seemed to me that God was blessing us despite the droughts, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other assorted “acts of God.” WE seemed to have that PEACE that was mentioned in the blessing even when we had men in Korea and Vietnam. Our physical nation between the two oceans seemed to be doing pretty well. Oh, we had our problems. An uncle sent his children to our parents from their home in Little Rock in order to keep his son out of trouble. Teenagers driving cars to the beat of Duane Eddy’s “Rebel Rouser” was not conducive to confidence in many a parent back then. But our world expanded and the nation was blessed.
Today I can mention something from the Bible to my adult students and only those who are closer to my age show even an inkling of understanding. The young women and men coming to my classroom are not blessed by knowledge. Oh, they know how to use an iPod or who the latest celebrities might be, but they don’t know the things that matter. If a messenger from God came into the classroom on Monday—assuming that any of the students bothered to show up—that angel of the Lord could hold up a hand and give the same benediction that God gave to the priests of Israel, and these kids would not have a clue.
Maybe I will never understand God or the blessings He has given to us. But I know those blessings come from Him and not from something we have done to be special. I really am glad that His ways are not our ways, His thoughts not our thoughts. We are too shallow and forgetful. And HE never forgets. He always loves us.