There's an old Irish blessing that says, "May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand."
I thought of it recently after reading a blessing I'd come across while reading my Bible. Although that blessing was conferred centuries ago by King Solomon upon the people under his leadership, it is appropriate for folks today.
"May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never forsake us. May he give us the desire to do his will in everything and to obey all the commandments, laws, and regulations that he gave our ancestors. May people all over the earth know that the LORD is God and that there is no other god. And may you, his people, always be faithful to the LORD our God."(1 Kings 8:57-61).
As I contemplated those words, which reflected the desires of King Solomon's heart, I remembered another blessing I learned about years ago from a friend who always wrote "Numbers 6:24-26" beneath her signature in every letter and note she sent me. The first time I received a note from her, I had to look up Numbers 6:24-26 in my Bible, for the passage was unfamiliar.
As I read it, I shed tears of joy, for I realized my friend was conferring upon me the same priestly blessing spoken thousands of years ago! How I loved it! I could almost hear her sweet voice saying, "May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace."
As I read and reread those words, I realized my friend did wish all those blessings for me. And I wished them for her. So, I bowed my head and rephrased the blessing, turning it into a prayer for my friend. "Lord, please bless Dianne and protect her. Smile on her and be gracious to her. Show her Your favor and give her Your peace."
Ideally, the blessing should be conferred while face to face. But even when written in a letter or spoken over the phone, it still brings great joy to the one receiving it.
Imagine the thrill of receiving a blessing such as this one (spoken by David) no matter how it comes: "In times of trouble, may the LORD respond to your cry. May the God of Israel keep you safe from all harm. May he send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem. May he remember all your gifts and look favorably upon your [sacrifices]. May he grant your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory, flying banners to honor our God. May the LORD answer all your prayers." (Psalm 20:1-5).
What's not to like about that blessing, especially if it's bestowed on us while we're going through a difficult time or pursuing a goal that seems unreachable? Just to know someone wishes all those blessings for us is heartwarming, indeed. But the blessing becomes even more powerful if that person converts the blessing into a prayer to the One who "is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope." (Ephesians 3:20).
© 2006 by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill, www.jgaskill.com. Scripture quoted is from the New Living Translation.