“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
I complain a lot about our Annual Conference. For one thing, our Annual Conference doesn’t even gather in our own conference. West Ohio’s Annual Conference meeting place is actually in East Ohio. It’s a great example of United Methodist logic, creating equality by making it inconvenient for virtually everybody. The meeting hall has no Air Conditioning so in the years when the temperature reaches over 9, it’s not only uncomfortable but potentially dangerous for some. The cost of housing rises, potentially making it difficult for us to be represented by younger laity who can’t afford to be delegates. WiFi and cell phone service can be spotty (which could be more of a joy than a concern for some I guess). And there are years, it seems we could do all of the work within a day instead of several.
But for all of that, I do truly enjoy Annual Conference. I like the process of gathering, worship, and debate. I relay like the debate. It gets tedious, but at the same time it’s what comes with being in a denomination where everyone, clergy and lay have some say in how we do ministry and live out our covenant. For all it’s inconvenience, we meet in a beautiful setting. The evenings of seeing friends, talking and getting reacquainted are an annual joy.
But there was one guest that was conspicuously absent this year. I hear they will show up this week for east Ohio, but they were absent in our gathering. Yes, this year we had no visit from the mayflies. If you haven’t ever seen a mayfly, let me show you one.
No reason to be alarmed . They don’t bite or sting. They don’t really do anything. They hatch bred,lay eggs all in a few days and then they are gone. They don’t buzz or annoy. So what’s the big deal? When they come, they come in droves. I mean droves. I’m not sure that if you haven’t been on Lake Erie in those weeks of June when the mayflies appears that you truly understand the infestation. There have been years, and I am in no way exaggerating. Where the mayflies are so thick you can’t drive your car at night. And I’ve seen shop owners actually using a snow shovel to shovel them off of their front steps.
Yes, I know they make you shudder just a little bit. And they can be an incredible inconvenience. Yet they are also a blessing. The Mayflies tend to indicate a very healthy Lake. The healthier the water in Lake Erie the more mayflies breed, which means the more fish feed on both the eggs and the mature mayflies. which makes for more fish. When the lake isn’t healthy there tends to be a drop in mayflies. So the blessing of a healthy lake brings the inconvenience of the mayfly.
But isn’t that true of most blessings? I’ve found that almost every blessing God has given me, too many to count and more than I deserve to be sure, always come with a inconvenience of some sort. The blessing of a home comes with the inconvenience of mortgages, repairs and cleaning. The inconvenience of a car comes again with car payments, and maintenance. The blessing of children come with the inconveniences of priority changes in life, staying up late nursing them through a stomach virus and still having to be at work the next day. Becoming a chauffeur for their friends.
Sometimes we allow the inconveniences of our blessings to overshadow the blessing itself. At times we can become so focused on the inconvenience that we stop seeing or appreciate the blessing all together. Focus on the inconvenience for too long and not only do we lose our thankful heart, but we can actually begin to resent the blessing.
But we can reset that attitude. First, every time you have an inconvenience in life train yourself to look for the blessing behind it. You’ll always find one if you look long enough. There is always a blessing behind the inconvenience. When you find it, give thanks for it. Stop at that moment and pray a prayer of thanksgiving. Even if you aren’t completley sincere when you do it, I encourage you to do so anyway. Over time, that attitude of thanksgiving becomes infectious and color how you see and deal with the world. You’ll not only become more thankful, but you’ll begin to become more aware of just how much God blesses you every day.
When we pray the prayer at the top of the page, God does answer. He will bless us. But blessings are never sterile. They are messy. They come with an inconvenience, or two. Bu they are still blessings. And they are all around if we only learn to look.
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><