You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. We’ve all experienced this sad reality at different times and at different levels of intensity. Maybe it was the opportunity to be with family and friends before you moved out of your parent’s home when you could just do whatever together, walk the neighborhood, play catch or as I did with my dad, go yard sale antiquing. Who knew how much time the increasing responsibilities that come with age would take? Maybe it was the chance to easily travel before the kids were born. With the privilege of raising children comes a lot more complexity. Maybe it was a pet that passed away or a relative you wish you could share another meal with. Who knew that the end their companionship would come so quickly?
It is a lesson that I have learned over and over and have forgotten over and over. The freshest iteration of this lesson came home to my heart a week ago as I joined family in Portland, Tennessee to remember the great man that my Grandpa, George M. Bush, was and the legacy of generosity, humor, service and spirituality that he left behind. He was not perfect but I saw God in this man. This man who helped to sponsor my way through the expensive bills of Seventh-day Adventist education influenced the direction of my life through those gifts incredibly.
This man who loved to give my young siblings and I rides in the wheel barrow and dump us in a pile of freshly mowed grass, this man who was such a joy to watch playing with my own children may have inspired my own playfulness with children. This man who came to work in his late eighties with our church plant team in Philadelphia that was transforming a dilapidated night club into a church and community building makes me want to stay active in making the lives of others better as long as I live. This man who loved to read his Bible and watching 3ABN also sought to live out the truths of self-sacrificing love. He and my grandma gave away a portion of their acreage to a needy family they took under their wings who now help to care for my grandmother after his passing. They love her like family and it brings comfort to the rest of us that they are there with her, just around the corner.
I thought Grandpa George would beat COVID-19. He was beating it until he fell in rehab. He was so strong. It’s hard to believe he’s gone. And yet I continue to see the goodness of God I saw in him in family and am grateful for the impact he made on the community, my family and me. I want to expand the influence he had on me into the lives of others as I am grateful for each day I had with him and try to make the most of every day I have with those God brings into my life.
As the hymn says:
Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings;
See what God hath done.
We so often get so focused on what we are wanting that we miss what we have. Take inventory of the people, the beauty, the abundant grace God has manifest in your life. Don’t just count the stuff you have but remember the eternal gifts that in Christ belong to you now and can never be taken away. Life, forgiveness, unending unconditional love, peace that isn’t based on circumstances, hope that one day, all that was lost to sin and death in this crazed planet will one day be put to rights. When you feel like you don’t have enough, start remembering the good and counting the blessings. Your gratitude, peace and assurance that God is present and active will grow and people will be inspired by the life you live as a result. What we have right now in God is amazing. I hope we will all know it today.