I recently left a ministry position after 5 years at a church. My wife and I felt for many reasons that it was time to begin a new season of life. We felt good about how God had used us and I had been led to believe by the leadership and congregation that I had done a good job. So I felt confident about both the timing of our departure and that we had served well. We also did our best to leave in a manner that would cause as little disruption as possible and believe we were able to accomplish that too.
All that, coupled with the fact that I consider myself to be a fairly well adjusted and self-confident person, should have added up to a peaceful exit. But it didn't. The week after my last Sunday I was filled with self doubt and a spirit of heaviness. Transitions are always uncomfortable but I wanted the peace that I thought would come with finishing well and following what I believed was God's will. I was really struggling.
Then last week we got a call from some good friends inviting us out to dinner. They said they just wanted to tell us how much they appreciated what God did through us at the church. After dinner they invited us to their home for dessert. When we arrived at their house we were SURPRISED by about 30 others from church who were there with gifts, cards and best of all, a time of rich blessing for us!
I honestly do not have the words to express the power of those blessings. It was as if God spoke directly to us through those beautiful friends and we left that night feeling as though a weight had been lifted! It was one of the sweetest times I've ever experienced. I admit that after the initial surprise (and we were honestly surprised) I felt a little embarrassed at the attention and the fact that I'd been feeling sorry for myself for the last week. But the Spirit quickly said, "Receive this!" And we did. We listened carefully and drank in those prayers and blessings.
What an important lesson this was for me! Being on the receiving end of those powerful blessings reminded me how important it is to bless others; to mark time and acknowledge good works by celebrating on a regular basis. Because the simple truth is blessings are how God releases people into His next plans for them. You can make that step without receiving a blessing, but it's exponentially more difficult.
Thank you to all those who blessed us that night and to others who couldn't be there but sent cards. We felt your blessings too. Now go and speak the blessings of the Lord over others with words and deeds and when someone blesses you with a simple thank you or a favor or a gift, "Receive it!"