The root word for blessing is used often in Scripture and in its simplest form can be defined as “Spiritual and material benefits given by God to be enjoyed.”  On June 19th, 2014, I celebrated the second most significant blessing in my life; a blessing that keeps on blessing. As a believer in Jesus Christ, my greatest blessing is that I have been adopted as a son of God. Through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ my sins past, present and future have been paid for and I rest in the truth that the Holy Spirit is continuing to transform me into the likeness of my Brother, Friend and Savior Jesus Christ. That by far is the greatest blessing any human being could ever receive . . . a blessing that keeps on blessing!
However the blessing I celebrate today comes through my parents Jim and Gloria Orner as they celebrate 60 years of marriage. The further that I get in this journey we call life the more I am amazed by them. They met while students at Moody Bible Institute and spent almost 40 years on the mission field in Africa. During those years God gave them four children; Roger, Marsha, Doug and myself. If my math is correct, they have 10 living grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. God used their words, prayers and faithful witness to draw me to Himself. In other words they blessed me with their faithful love for Jesus which led me to the first and greatest blessing! Even more significant are the grandchildren who have all been blessed in the same way.
Second to their love for Jesus was their love for each other. No marriage is perfect and I am sure they had challenges, but from this kid’s perspective I never doubted that they loved each other. It was clear in how they talked to one another, worked through differences, and by sitting next to each other or holding hands whenever possible. It wasn’t until later in life that I discovered how rare that was! It is a tremendous blessing for a child to grow up having no fear of their parents leaving each other. Their love for each other made the unconditional love the showed for me tremendously rich… yes a blessing that keeps on blessing!
Beyond their love for each other was an unconditional love for each of their children. As the youngest I am often harassed by my siblings for being spoiled and getting away with more, but not one of us doubts their love for us. They had a way of overfilling each of the love tanks though each of us is quite different. I never felt manipulated by them. They did not shame or compare me to my siblings, they just loved me! This built into me a sense of security that many children never get to experience. But most importantly it gave me a real life example of the unconditional love of Jesus! That is a priceless gift that no words can describe. Yes, a blessing that keeps on blessing!
It has been 33 years since I left home, yet our relationship has continued to deepen. Dad often gets discouraged because the years have taken a toll on his body and mind. Yet even though we cannot communicate at the level we once did, our times together remain precious. Mom’s cooking tastes better as the years go by with each bite taking me back to days long past. Many of those memories are of a table surrounded by guests who often showed up without notice. Hospitality was simply a way of life, and though I cannot prove it scientifically, I believe I experienced a miracle more than once as mom’s Sloppy Joes feed more people than they should have! A blessing that keeps on blessing!
Beyond their love for Jesus, their love for each other, their love for the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and their love for any who showed up at their door, was their faithful prayer for each one of us. In a world that undervalues prayer, they made it a priority and because of that I have been deeply blessed. Words cannot describe the comfort and confidence I have for each new day knowing that they have lifted me before they throne of grace. Their prayers have truly been a blessing the keeps on blessing!
Mom and Dad, thank you for dying to yourselves and taking up the cross to follow Jesus! Thank you for being a blessing that keeps on blessing, a blessing that we enjoy as celebrate with you now, but one that will pass on to many generations to come. May “the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)