Blessed and highly favored

Published 9:58 pm Friday, May 24, 2013

By Rev. Chris Surber

The first church I served as pastor was a little flock that met in a little meeting house constructed of river mud brick from the Cheboygan River in the frozen northern reaches of Michigan.

We lived in a rickety old, formerly grand house that allowed the wind to whip off Lake Huron, only a few blocks away, and through the cracks in the impossibly crooked old window frames.

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The church was old. The building was even older. The people had been worn down by decades of financial struggle in much the same fashion as the building had been worn into disrepair due to a lack of cash in the building maintenance fund.

It was a struggle to pastor a church with almost no financial resources and such willing souls who simply could no longer do the work they could once perform. I learned a lot about ministry in that little worn-down town.

I learned even more about having a positive attitude when everything around you seems to be shouting to do just the opposite. I learned to appreciate the beauty of tulips planted in a wobbly planter box by an 80-year-old woman. It was amazing how spring brought the front of that old church to life when it was surrounded by brilliantly colored tulips. Those dazzling flowers completely took one’s attention off of the decrepit, paint-chipped building, bringing the whole scene to life.

I learned that with a thick coat of paint in every room, with a little plastic around the edges of windows, with a loving wife decorating and with a toddler running through the immensity of that once-grand house, it could become a home.

I realized that the sun shines through beveled, lead-paned glass just as brightly as it does through new, energy-efficient windows. In fact, the light dancing through the bevels and beaming off the old splintered glass creates warmth that new construction cannot match.

I learned it is better to be content with what you have, finding hope and beauty in the blessing you have, than it is to be full of want for something better.

In that church, there was a kooky woman who would visit about once a month. She was a Holy Spirit Pentecostal-filled oddity in that old, mainline Congregational church.

My wife and I affectionately referred to her as “Crazy Cousin Cathy.” She was the cousin of an elderly woman in the church, and she was a great encourager to my wife and me.

Whenever we asked how she was doing, she would say, “I am blessed and highly favored!”

And she was right. She had the love of family in that old church. She had the love of God welling up in her heart. She had hope for the future and love and life in the present. Indeed, she was blessed and highly favored, and so is every child of God!

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16 ESV)

If we have the love of Jesus living in us, then we are God’s children. The beauty and brilliance of that is more than enough reason to shout, “I too am blessed and highly favored!”

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at www.chrissurber.com.