How often do we overlook God’s blessings in our daily lives because we are accustomed to their presence?

A few months after Michael’s heart attack, we prepared to take our 4 o’clock rehab walk. I pulled up the frayed laces of my sneakers, adjusted my socks, and contemplated a new path.

Our time navigating the dirt trail behind the local university had become my time of solace.  We no longer struggled through short walks, pulse-ox in hand, checking to ensure we had the correct speed and distance and his pulse rate was not too high. The fear of another crisis was beginning to fade, and we had started to hold hands not for reassurance but the joy of our companionship. But day after day, the same trail, at the same time, with the same views, had become…well, a little boring.

It didn’t take much convincing for Michael to agree to a new route. My plan included several blocks through town, a stretch through the university grounds, and a half-mile along a park where we could hear cheering parents at little league baseball games. It was perfect, except I didn’t realize how hot the concrete would become in the middle of a summer afternoon. The heat was hard for Michael to withstand. As we neared the halfway point of our walk, I noticed beads of sweat forming in his hairline. 

The further we walked, the more he began to sweat. I knew he would refuse an offer to call someone.  The pavement felt like a pizza oven cranked on high. Worry and regret turned into guilt. Why did I have to grumble about something familiar? I wanted to grab Michael’s hand, but we both felt too hot and panicky. 

I began to wish we were on our familiar trail. I knew what to expect there. I knew every twist, turn, and elevation change. I had ignored the comfort of a routine and reduced it to a chore.

Without announcement, two glorious rain clouds appeared. Lightning split the afternoon sky as thunder cracked, and raindrops began to rebound from the sun baked blacktop.

Michael stretched out his arms and declared, “I love the smell of rain on hot, summer pavement!  It’s the smell of my childhood.  When I rode my bike on my paper route, or when I was fishing, or on my way home from baseball and the warm Nebraska rain hit the road, I knew life was good.” 

I slipped off my well-worn sneakers and grabbed his hand as I splashed through puddles, laughing for the first time in months. It was our manna from heaven moment.

Lessons from the Israelites

Despite the positive turn of the afternoon, I realized I had become no different than the wandering Israelites—they had been freed from Egyptian slavery after God sent ten plagues to soften Pharaoh’s heart. They walked through the parted waters of the Red Sea. Then they began to complain about the problems in front of them. 

One short month after their rescue, they started to grumble.  And yet, God blessed them with manna.  “The Lord will give you meat to eat in the evening and bread to satisfy you in the morning, for he has heard all your complaints against him.”

That evening, large amounts of quail flew in and covered their camp.  The following morning the area around their base filled with dew for them to make into bread.  The Israelites had to follow God’s instructions, however.  They were to gather one omer of manna per person, which was approximately two quarts.  They were not to collect more than what they needed for the day, and if they did so, it would fill with maggots and insects.  The day before the Sabbath was the one exception.  They were to gather twice the amount of manna and keep it for the day of rest. “Each family had just what it needed.” (Exodus 16:17)

By my calculations, this meant they ate approximately 14,600 meals of quail and bread during their 40 years in the wilderness.  Did they welcome the scent of roasting birds as the blessing of God’s provision? Or on night 14,599, did they long for something different?

I, too, had been delivered.  We were through the crisis of quintuple bypass surgery, a miracle no less than the parting of the Red Sea.  We were adjusting to our wilderness period of caution, coupled with moving forward.  And God showed up every minute.  We found His fresh fragrance of comfort in our daily lives. It was consistent and familiar.  I needed to embrace His presence and dance in the puddles of His provision.

Whether we have recently been delivered from trauma, are in the midst of it, or are in a season of calm, the scent of God’s blessings surrounds us.  Will you join me in a challenge?  At the end of each day, in your calendar, write down just three blessings you are aware of from that day.  It can be as simple as one word.  By the end of the month, you will have a list of nearly 100!  That month will become a celebration of God’s aroma of goodness in our daily lives. As we change our attitude from grumbling to grateful, we will encounter His presence like a warm summer breeze wrapping us in the familiar embrace of comfort. 

For reflection:

Is there a daily blessing you rely on but forget to acknowledge?

How would you describe the scent of God in your life?

Dear Heavenly Father,

You provide what we need when we need it.  We praise You for the miracles you hide in plain sight, surrounding Your children with Your fragrance of comfort, protection, and provision.  Thank you for being a God who delivers us, even when we grumble about the convenience of the routine.   Amen