The way G42 worked in Spain was that each week, a teacher would speak on their life message, try to help us understand what they were currently learning themselves, or whatever they felt God was leading them to say. Usually, it was a combination of the three. These teachers flew into Spain from all over the world and were used mightily by God, influencing and changing me in ways I’m not even sure I could describe. They would live with us, pray with us, eat and drink with us, laugh and cry with us. They put their lives on pause so they could come and pour themselves out, simply because they love Jesus and believe in us as the next generation.
One day in class, I was having a sneezing fit and completely disrupted class from the brute force rising up within me and shaking my entire body. As the teacher paused for me to finish, a classmate hollered across the room, “Bless you!”
Before continuing on with the lesson, the teacher looked at my friend and asked, “With what?”
“What do you mean?” my friend replied with a curious look on his face.
“With what do you bless her?” my teacher implored.
We sat there in silence. It had never crossed my mind to think about what I was saying when someone sneezed and I mumbled a blessing to them. I’m not even sure why we choose to bless people when they sneeze, but since that is a cultural norm, then what exactly are we saying?
If someone were to ask me, “What do you mean when you bless someone? What does it mean when someone says they’re blessed?” I’m not sure I would have an answer. Growing up in the South, “Bless you child” or “I’m so blessed” or “Bless your heart” are everyday phrases one can hear. If I were to actually think about it, I suppose I would have said we were wishing good things upon the person, or that good things have already happened. #blessed
I was reading an article the other day that talks about this topic and what it means. The authors define blessing as two different perspectives. One side of the coin shows that blessing is when future destiny or goodness is spoken over someone or something, resulting in the person or thing being blessed. On the other hand, blessing is the fulfillment of what was promised. When observed carefully, both definitions are seen to have one thing in common: a blessing begins when something is spoken out loud and life is the result. It is seen with the combination of efforts put forth by people and the beautiful presence of God, intersecting with His power, to produce more life.
In Acts 20, Paul traversed all the way over to Troas to stay for the week in order to encourage the church. The one story recorded of this visit shows that while Paul was preaching on past midnight, a man named Eutychus fell asleep in the middle, fell out of a third-story window, and died.
Though not everyone saw Eutychus fall, they all heard the thump as he hit the ground. The first ones to make it to him picked him up and declared him dead. However, Paul reacted differently. After he buried his face in Eutychus’ chest and embraced him, Paul lifted his eyes to the crowd and said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.” And sure enough, Eutychus was alive! The Bible doesn’t explicitly say that Paul raised him to life. However, it does say that Paul threw himself upon Eutychus and interceded on behalf of him, believing that he could live when everyone else had stated he was dead.
Paul blessed Eutychus that day with life. The article stated earlier reveals that the idea of blessing remains linked to the idea of life flourishing toward an intended fullness. To bless someone doesn’t necessarily mean that a dead man will rise, like in the instance of Paul and Eutychus. To bless someone means that life will be restored, illuminated, and divinely abundant. Jesus gives a few examples of blessings in Matthew 5:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I went to church this morning and ran into a dear friend of whom I hadn’t seen in months. It had been some time, and I was eager to see her because of some things the Holy Spirit had revealed. After embracing each other, we sat down on some stones to the side of the main area, next to a small stream. I could see the weariness, the exhaustion, the longing for something more in her eyes.
I looked at her and shared the simple words God had for her. Words of listening and awareness, of patience and answers. As I spoke, I saw life being restored back to her eyes, back into the depths of her soul and spirit. Our eyes were locked in the divine moment and she shared with me a specific request she was asking God for, but that things had been as stagnate as the stream next to us. Yet, because I spoke, she felt encouraged to continue petitioning to the Father, trusting in His faithfulness.
That’s what speaking life does: the speaker and the recipient both walk away more alive and more blessed.
God’s covenant with Abram in the book of Genesis declared that He would bless Abram so that he would be a blessing to others. This blessing has trickled down into believers here and now. We have the power (because of Christ in us) and the responsibility (as ambassadors of Christ) to be a blessing and to bless others.
For it is in the blessing that barrenness turns into fruitfulness, that dead men come alive, and that intimacy is restored with the Father.