Sunday, January 06, 2008

One by One....

I grew up in Puerto Rico, where my parents were missionaries. Every Thursday night our home was the location of the Mission Meeting--a team meeting of all the Wesleyan missionaries--during which they studied God's Word, sang, shared prayer requests, and prayed. Oh, they prayed. When I was little, I didn't fully comprehend what they had to pray about. What could possibly take that much time to talk to God about? My siblings and I would hang out in our rooms doing homework or reading, or planning ways to sneak past all the people in the living room and out to the kitchen to eat the goodies that people had brought. Or we just sat there waiting for the meeting to be over so we could go partake of the finger foods.

But what I remember most is hearing the missionaries sing. They sang all the great hymns, and it was a beautiful sound. I grew up in a house where music was nearly always playing. (My sister Ruth calls it "life with background music.") But there was something even sweeter (as I look back now from thirty years later) in this music sung by people who were living in a culture not their own, homesick, missing family, and certainly oppressed and fought daily by Satan as they strove to share the Gospel on that island. Having now lived overseas, I have a keener understanding of how they felt. I, too, have felt it. While we lived in India, we got together with other Christians on Sunday mornings, and again with a small group one night a week. What sweet fellowship!

One song they sang frequently during my childhood was Count Your Blessings:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

--Johnson Oatman, Jr.

Can you relate to these lyrics? Are you discouraged, burdened, or disheartened? Read those words again. They are becoming more dear to me every year. I can now understand why this was such a favorite for all those sweet people so many years ago. I realize that I need to number the the things God has blessed me with, and thank Him for His grace and mercy. Have you counted your blessings lately?


chandra said...

Alice, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I needed to be reminded of this!! Love ya.

tmagskjohns said...

Thanks, Alice! That brought back a lot of great memories. I needed to read those lyrics today, too!


Anonymous said...

Its wonderful to see God's work. We have been struggling, financialy, for the past 4 months, or so. As I began to sink in that mire of doubt, I began to walk around the house just thanking the Lord for all the many ways He has blessed me and my family. I immediately felt relieved and reminded that God won't let us fall and that it is all very temporary. Shortly, thereafter I discovered your husband's blog site and through his, yours. I have been very blessed by all your thoughts and stories, and feel that God led me to them. I now count you as one of my blessings. I remember the song. We use to sing it often.

A Friend

Alice C. said...

Chandra: I'm glad it encouraged you, too. Love you!

Mary: I figured you'd like this one. Remember peeking out through those slats in the wall from the top bunk in the little bedroom?

Anonymous: The Lord has blessed us through so many people and in so many ways this year. I'm glad that we can be a blessing to you through electonic means. :)