Often God blesses us by giving us what He knows we need to live effectively and fulfill the calling He has for us. Both Lewis and Tolkien have interesting ways of expressing this in their two famous book series, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Father Christmas meets the Pevensie children and provides them with the items necessary to carry out their calling as kings and queens of Narnia: a sword for Peter, a bow and arrows for Susan, a bottle of healing cordial for Lucy. As you might guess, each uses his or her gift wisely and at critical points in their subsequent battles.
Their brother Edmund isn’t there, because he has been taken in by the charm of the evil White Witch. What gift does he receive from her? Candy. This is a gift that consists of momentary pleasure, instant gratification, and nothing that will actually prepare him for his role as a future king. Because of his decision to leave his siblings and follow his own desires, Edmund has to wait much longer to receive his true gifts
Frederick Douglas once said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” To me this is wisdom. To avoid landmines is a lot more efficient (and pleasant!) than picking up the pieces after hitting them.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, the elven queen, Galadriel, provides to Aragorn a sheath for his great sword, to Legolas a bow, to Sam a box of elven earth for his garden, to Gimli a lock of her hair to remind him of his reconciliation with the elves, and to Frodo a vial of starlight to keep him safe in the darkness of Mordor. All of these items had great significance and lasting value, particularly in the eyes of the gifted.
Both Lewis and Tolkien had a rich theology of blessing. They illustrated well that the best gifts are not luxury items or “cotton candy” pleasures, but rather the specific items we need to succeed in our calling. The best gifts equip us to accomplish the tasks and live the lives that God has for us.
It is an interesting question . . . If I looked for God’s hand of blessing set in my context, what would He give me? Would it be wisdom for parenting? Would it be endurance to bear up under stress? Would it be patience or grace for the day’s interruptions?
What would God give you that would enable or enhance your success in ministry, family, or His calling on your life?
Additionally, Jesus tells us an astounding truth: the more we use the gifts God has already given us, the more gifts He will give. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the talents (an ancient form of currency). In this parable, before a rich man goes on a long journey, he entrusts three of his servants with money. He gives one servant five talents, another two talents, and the last servant one talent. While their master is gone, the first two servants invest the money and double what he had entrusted to them. The last servant buries the money in the ground, knowing that the master will demand it when he returns.
When the master returns, he is pleased with the first two servants, who multiplied their monies, but he is furious with the last servant, who buried his one talent. He was outraged that the servant didn’t even bother to do the bare minimum with the money—put it in the bank, where it would earn interest. He takes away the one talent and gives it to the servant who has ten.
“Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Matthew 13:12). He who has much will be given more—because that servant is using it well, or in other words, using it for the kingdom, justice, and will of God in this world.
Stewardship begets blessing.
Just as the behavior of children and employees either earns or forfeits trust and responsibility, our stewardship of God’s gifts will elicit His rewards or His disappointment. Being faithful leads to blessing (and blessings take many forms).
Faithfulness with what we have is one of the surest ways to experience a greater blessing from God.
Picture a classroom of second graders for a moment. Imagine there’s a difficult child bullying his fellow students and disrespecting the teacher. I cannot affirm that child. Even if I know his story, that he came from a troubled home, and want to comfort and encourage him, there is nothing in his behavior that I could encourage. I could love, I could forgive, I could listen, but I could not affirm the behavior. Affirmation, after all, is a form of encouragement.
Sometimes I think God is desperately waiting for us to give Him one small indication of obedience so He can pour out His full measure of affirmation, encouragement, and blessing. A father cannot encourage a wrong heart, but delights in affirming whatever good he can. In time, the nurturing of small acts of obedience gives rise to the fullness of character and blessing.
Partially excerpted from The Grand Paradox: The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God, and the Necessity of Faith.