God bless you

Published 6:37 pm Friday, January 18, 2019

God bless you. Now, that expression may seem common, but a few years ago I learned that when I say, “God bless you,” I need to mean it. As the young generation would say, I need to mean it for real. Read on, and you’ll see why.

When I returned from a trip to Houston last week, I was pleased to find the amazin’ blonde had placed on my desk a package that had arrived in the mail last week. I could tell it was a book, but — while I order books regularly — I knew I had not ordered anything recently. When I opened the package, I found a thick, hardback, red book called, “For Such A Time As This: And Other Essays from the Back Page.”

I immediately knew the book was one recently published by an old preacher friend of mine, Carl Johnson. In addition to the thrill of receiving the book, I was equally proud of the note he had written in the front that said that he wanted me to have his new book as a token of his appreciation for my encouragement to him during the years he wrote “The Back Page,” an article he wrote monthly for 15 years that appeared on the back of the long-running “Old Paths Advocate” periodical. I always told Carl that the “back page” was the best part of the paper. Why, sometimes I would not even have to open up the paper to enjoy that month’s publication. I would just flip it over to read the back.

I was thrilled to receive a personal, autographed copy of his book. When I got it, I immediately looked for one particular article I had read some years ago, one that had long stuck with me, called, “God Bless You.” Sure enough, I found it on page 309 of his new book. I had heard Carl preach it, too, and I never forgot the sermon nor the article.

One blessing he references is that well-known benediction in Numbers 6:24-26, where the Lord commands Moses to tell Aaron to bless children of Israel. Bless them this way, says the Lord: “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee. The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”

It is a powerful thing when a friend offers you a blessing, as Aaron does for God’s people. Near the end of his article, Carl brings the beauty of offering a blessing to life, in these words:

“When you pronounce a blessing thoughtfully and sincerely upon another person … it can be a profoundly powerful act. Stop for a moment and think about saying to someone, ‘God bless you and keep you.’”

You now see why I have been changed in a very good way by this preacher and why I always try to mean it when I say “God bless you,” or — as I am more apt to say — just “God bless.” 

Carl had no way of knowing this lesson has stuck with me for such a long time, that it would be the first one for which I would look when I took his new book in my hand. And he certainly has no idea the impact the latter part of his handwritten note would have, as he concludes, graciously, with this benediction:

“God bless and keep you. – Carl M. Johnson”