In business we count our stock, or inventory, as an asset. It consists of those materials and products we store and hold onto until we can put them into use. In some businesses the use is reselling the stock to others who can either consume it or put it to a further use (like taking what we sell them and using it to manufacture or assemble a different final product). In other cases, we hold onto it for a greater purpose of our own, like our own finished products. Either way, it’s something of significant value.
A crucial element of stock or inventory is counting it. Knowing what you have, assessing its value, knowing where it’s located, are all incredibly important in order to capitalize on it for future use. Otherwise, it can be lost or squandered, and in business allowing that is a very costly mistake.
It’s no different with the blessings of God. That was the reminder to me this week as I read through Psalms 106 – 111 and Proverbs 18.
Psalms 106:1-3 reads …
Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise him enough? There is joy for those who deal justly with others and always do what is right.
The Psalmist uses the rhetorical question, “Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord?” to remind us how innumerable the miracles of God are in totality. But that doesn’t mean we should count them in the sense of remembering them. In fact, later in the Psalm, the psalmist reminds us …
Our ancestors in Egypt were not impressed by the Lord’s miraculous deeds. They soon forgot his many acts of kindness to them. Instead, they rebelled against him at the Red Sea.
Sometimes forgetting is the result of not trying to actively remember something … of not taking stock. It means we haven’t counted what we have, we haven’t sought to identify it, locate it, and value it. In a business setting, it’s akin to saying, “Yeah, we have a bunch of stuff back there in the warehouse, but I’m not sure what’s all there.” That’s a sure-fire way to lose what you think you have, and for it to diminish in value simply because it isn’t identified and able to be put to future value-generating use.
Taking stock is important in our spiritual journey also, in order to understand the blessings of God, to put them to use, either for our own ultimate consumption, or perhaps to pass along to others for their eventual consumption. When I think about the many blessings – the miracles, really – of God in my life, I have to wonder if their ultimate purpose was for the time at hand, or if it was for later application. As a for-instance, when I look back to the way that God delivered me from the health maladies 20 years ago that eventually served as the mechanisms for me to understand that He, not I, truly controlled the circumstances of my life, I can see that His deliverance wasn’t necessarily secured for that time. In many ways, they’ve served to equip, empower, and encourage me and others in ways I would never have thought possible back then. If I fail to take stock of them, I rob myself and others of the gifts that God provided in these situations.
Look at the Israelites and the pain and suffering they went through because they forgot to list and value the miracles of God on their behalf. The psalmist in Psalms 106 recounts the cost of the Israelites’ failure to take stock of God’s deliverance from the bondage at the hands of the Egyptians, of the salvation God provided at the Red Sea’s parting, of the provision of food in the midst of the desert. The self-imposed anguish was substantially caused by a failure to take stock of the self-evident miracles God had provided them, as if saying they had no inventory left when just behind them was a warehouse-full.
In life, we have to take stock of God’s miracles, lest we rob ourselves of the riches He provides through them. Riches not just for today, but for profitable purposes beyond what we see and assume. So here’s my encouragement to us all. Give it a try … list out the miracles God has carried out on your behalf. Spend the time necessary to count them … and like in business to count each little thing and each big thing. Ascribe them value … even though we’re not always allowed the opportunity to know the eventual value. Keep track of them so you can locate them when you need them. Why would you need them? Because life happens and at times we need to go back into the store house and pull something off the shelf. It might be dusty, and may perhaps have been sitting on the shelf for a while, but its intended use may very well be exactly the situation you or I are in. The last thing we want to do is leave it unidentified on the shelf, unable to be ascribed the value it could have, good for nothing other than the scrap heap.
Seriously, take me up on the challenge … I’ll join you. Let’s prayerfully spend the time this week to take stock, to count the invaluable assets God has equipped us with for the purposes only He yet knows. Let’s take the time to identify them, to locate them, to track them, and to value them for the wealth and riches they are. We never know when we might have to pull them out of the warehouse, but God forbid that we have them there, need them, and forget that they’re available to us. What a tragic waste that would be. I pray we both take stock!
Soli Deo gloria!