Blessings in 3's
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He refreshes my soul.”
- Psalm 23:2-3
Great things often come in THREE’S! A department store sale that offers buy two items and get the third for free; the cable provider that offers a bundle package for cable TV, internet, and phone services; the always delicious In N’ Out Combo of a burger, fries, and a drink; even today’s basketball is dominated by the long-range three-point shot. In the Scriptures the number 3 plays a prominent and powerful role in understanding the mystery of God’s nature and walking in the majesty of Christ’s salvation. The Scriptures are filled with what I like to call “BIG THREE” moments and images. We have the very Godhead operating in harmony and manifesting His glory to us in three persons: God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We have God announcing and confirming His personal and living covenant through the title of being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (three patriarchs of the Old Testament). And we have the foundation of our faith and hope in Christ Jesus who died for our sins and rose again on the third day, in order to deliver us from sin and death. I don’t know about you, but I am super thankful for the Blessings of Three! As Jesus, Himself, spoke in Matthew 12:40-41, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth…a greater than Jonah is here.”
Over the next three weeks I want to share three lessons from my summer sabbatical break. As I was away from my pastoral duties, the Lord was working wonderfully on varying areas of my life in order to release greater peace, freedom, and confidence. As I have meditated and reflected on the work of His hand on His child, three words have surfaced: 1) Refreshing; 2) Refining; and 3) Rewarding. And as you have probably guessed it, each of these areas brought with it three moments, memories, and meaningful deposits.
When it comes to the summer season, the idea of REFRESHING comes to the forefront. In fact, during the summer I often begin or end my email correspondence by speaking the words of “refreshing” over people’s lives, families, schedules, and activities. The reality is that we are looking for a change of pace and places of reprieve during the summer: We look to get away from the office, to spend time with the family. We look to get away from the sweltering heat, by heading to the beach or spending time at the pool. One of my favorites passages in all the Bible comes from a message Peter delivers in Acts 3:19, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
As we entered our summer sabbatical, we experienced three unique blessings of “refreshing” to begin this new journey/adventure. First, we were in celebration mode as our oldest son, Isaac, graduated from high school. What an absolute delight to see him grow into adulthood and to see his high-level academic accomplishment (this week we take him to college). Second, there came a surprisingly abundant provision. We were given a gift from two families that essentially covered all our summer traveling plans…talk about a dream vacation! Finally, as we were on the Alaska Cruise with the entire family, we had what could only be called “unseasonably perfect weather”. We were recipients of sunny days and not one drop of rain. It was so wonderfully warm that we even were able to wear shorts at most ports. This was our third time (there’s that number 3 again) to Alaska and there had not been a time before where it didn’t rain multiple days. It was on the drive home from Seattle, that the Holy Spirit began speaking to my heart about the refreshing we had been experiencing and how He was wanting us to find ourselves sheltered, rested, and invigorated in His presence. What I learned in this time was that it was not a lack of duties or the number of days off that was going to recharge my battery, but it was finding myself drawing from the riches of His mercies and the goodness of His love.
As we come to the start of the school year and the starting days of the fall season, my prayer is that you would experience His refreshing touch for the places in your life that seem to be heavy, moving chaotically, or clothed in worry. You may not be able to take extended time off as we did, but you can take an extended breath to find rest in Him. By slowing down and reflecting on the Lord, each one of us can be surprised by what God works in our lives. Dear beloved, do not let the weight bury you, the heat melts you, or the trial imprison you. The Lord is with you to do something that is so out of the ordinary that it overflows life to every ounce of your being and every area that is dear to you. I speak an Ephesians 3:20 reality over you and may it even multiply three times over in your life, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.”