When Debi and I were joined in holy matrimony 47 years ago, my favorite college professor, Doctor Davidson, stood to pronounce a blessing over us. He has long since gone on to be with our Lord, but even now I can see his glowing face as he spoke with such confidence and faith. I print the entire passage because with this new year, I want to pronounce this blessing upon you as well. Read it as addressed to you.
2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
7 The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.
8 The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
9 The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways.
10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee.
11 And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
12 The LORD shall open unto
thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.
13 And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath.
I am now well into my 74th year upon this earth (73 years old). Deb and I were talking just the other day and she said, “You know, when I was young I dreamed and I had great hope, but I have lived far beyond my best dreams and imaginations.” I concur. Certainly, if I had my life to live over again, knowing all that I know now, I would do many things differently; but having lived in the blessings of God, I cannot imagine being more blessed or having any more joy and satisfaction out of life.
The passage repeatedly speaks of blessings: “Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.” We have lived in the city and we have lived in the field. We have lived in a travel trailer in faraway places; we have lived in a small, uninsulated house filled with brown recluse spiders and winter drafts, and we have lived in a grand house we built that was featured in the newspaper. But none of the blessings came from the city or the country or the place where we laid our heads at night; the blessings were constant from day to day throughout life.
Yes we felt the ups and downs of near poverty, of long hours working, of sickness and doctor visits. In our early years we both had illness and were on the brink of death, requiring long hospital stays that led to lots of bills. We have had struggles with diabetes, miscarriages requiring hospital time, tumors extracted, heart attacks, strokes, encephalitis, Lyme disease, malaria, back and neck operations, broken bones, accidents, sick children, legal threats, media denunciation, betrayal by friends, church splits, and much more, but I assure you that I have to search my memory to recall those events in life. They never interrupted the blessings of God. I don’t remember the “hard times” as hard. They are memories that seem to be the experience of someone else. I just remember being blessed.
Now one of the blessings of Deuteronomy 28 stands out to me: “Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body.” We have five healthy children who grew up to honor the Lord and become recipients of the overflowing blessings of God. Truly—truly—the fruit of our bodies is blessed, and all our children rise up and call us blessed. Our children and 25 grandkids—and counting—are our heritage from the Lord.
The thing about God’s blessing is that it is not in the outward circumstances; it is a matter of a thankful heart. We have bought our groceries from Walmart and Save-a-Lot and at other times we have grown most of what we eat, offering the same thanks over every meal. We have had flats with no spares and broken down in faraway places with no money for repairs. We have slept in our car and in nice motels, but God gives sleep to his beloved.
“Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.” When we walk in the front door, the blessing of God greets us. When we walk out the back door, the blessing of God follows, accompanied by the sisters “goodness and mercy.”
Debi and I have found this blessing to be especially true. “The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto.” When we were young and poor, several evenings each week we would squeeze into a regular-size bathtub and have long, lazy talks. The tub was the womb of our vision to reach the world for Christ. We often discussed what we would do if we had a million dollars. What would be the most efficient use to reach the most people with the gospel? We dreamed and imagined, rejecting some ideas and modifying others—discovering that a million dollars would only get us started, but we knew it was more money than we would ever see. Still we dreamed. Deb put feet to her prayers, filling out every sweepstakes she could find. Back then the “Million Dollar Sweepstakes” was found in most magazines. She could have hand printed a Bible with all the forms she filled out—to no avail. But our dream was God’s dream, and to date we have spent over thirty million dollars to reach the world with the gospel in about 50 languages. And there are still so many who have never heard. We march on. God held true to his promised blessing. He “commanded” the blessing upon our “storehouse,” and made us “plenteous in goods” so that we have been able to “lend” and “not borrow.”
This passage I reference with involuntary humility: “The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.” We are not worthy to have God take our side against those who have made themselves our enemies. Sometimes I have forgotten to ask God to forgive them, and he has suddenly “smitten” them—in some cases even unto death. It is a scary thing to live in the presence of God and have him take interest in your affairs (his affairs).
The thing about God’s blessings that make them blessed is that they are unearned and undeserved. When the wonder of life’s blessings no longer provoke thanksgiving, we have descended into a state of pride, and our next response will be complaining, followed by blaming God.
The writer said, “The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure.” God wants to bless us. He has giant storehouses full of undelivered blessings addressed to each one of us, but we either didn’t ask, seek, and find, or when he shipped them to us, we were not at the address of faith and obedience; we were off on our own, seeking to bless ourselves with the things of the world and probably wondering why we are not recipients of God’s blessings.
I don’t want to leave the impression that God has blessed us because we were more obedient or had more faith. I don’t feel that way at all. I can tell you from experience that a little faith—very little faith—properly placed creates a small window in our carnality that allows the blessing of God to squeeze through and reach preposterous proportions. Feeble obedience, stumbling along on the path that we believe to be the will of God, creates a highway for a heavenly delivery of all things good and blessed. A place of prayer and Scripture meditation provides God with an address to deliver the goods to his little children.
Get a concordance and read every passage in the Bible that speaks of a blessing. Also read the entire chapter of Deuteronomy 28 and meditate on each passage. You will also note that there is a curse pronounced upon those who disobey, who are unthankful or scornful. But I don’t want to think about that right now, nor do I want to write on it. I am swimming in blessings, and I hear the grandkids coming in the front door, no doubt wanting some of Mama Pearl’s homemade bread.