The Blessings of God: Do We Deserve It? –By Dean Marini

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” -1 Timothy 1:15.

I have received a variety of different awards over the years. Athletic trophies, television and video awards, military medals and commendations decorate my office and home, but a Popsicle shaped piece of Styrofoam covered in glitter and affixed to a small wooden base may be the one I hold most dear. On that base is a brass plate that says “Pop Sickle Award” and it was originally given to a father in my church that made outstanding contributions to our ministry each year. Although I wasn’t a father, the committee that presented the award felt that my work in the church and closeness to the man it was named after, warranted an exception.

Lyle “Pop” Sickle was a cornerstone of the church I grew up in as a boy and still attend today. He carried the nickname “Pop” both as a tribute to being a father to his children and father figure to many in the church, as well as the frozen treat. He was a tall man and strong, yet when he talked to you he had a gentle spirit and tenderness that made him a friend of everyone. He had very large hands, especially to a youngster and he was a stickler for shaking hands with a good firm handshake.  My memories of those handshakes are that your hand would get swallowed up by his hand and when you pulled it out, more often than not, there would be a quarter in yours. In my mind’s eye, I can see Pop loading his pockets with quarters on Sunday mornings before leaving for church.

As a fan of the movie “Tombstone”, there is a line from the movie that often brings Pop Sickle to mind. In a scene where Wyatt Earp is parting company with two of his companions all of whom are certain they may die, one of the men says to Earp, “I ain’t got the words”. So often we hear that phrase from someone as they express gratitude to someone or for something. People often say they don’t have the words during acceptance speeches when receiving a professional achievement award. That phrase always brings Pop Sickle to my mind along with my most vivid memory of this incredible man of God. We used to have testimony time during our worship services and people would rise throughout the congregation to praise God for something he had done in their life. Many would praise the Lord for an answered prayer that week, or give witness to a blessing that had happened recently. Some might glorify God for who he is, but I will never forget what would happen EVERY time Pop Sickle rose to his feet.

That powerful, witty, funny giant of a man that loved to talk with people and share a kind word or laugh at a joke would become strangely silent. Quickly after standing his head would bow, seconds later his body would begin to visibly shake. The harder he tried to utter spoken words the stronger the shaking became and soon the tears would begin to stream down his face. This humble saint of God was so overcome with gratitude that he could not speak. While many men would have been embarrassed to show so much emotion publicly, Pop had the attitude of David when his wife accused him of humiliating himself by dancing before the Lord. In 2nd Samuel 6:22-23 David says “I was dancing before the LORD, who chose me over your father and all his house when He appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel. I will celebrate before the LORD, 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. Like David, Pop wasn’t worried about not being dignified or manly, he was grateful to God for all that he had done in his life.

Too many of us today have the opinion that we deserve the blessings of God. That Jesus is lucky to have us on his team. We keep score with God counting up all of the things we do for him and think that we are owed favor, honor and provision. I don’t know that I’ve ever met a more faithful servant of Christ than Pop Sickle and yet instead of bragging about his good deeds  he had the attitude Paul expresses in 1 Timothy 1:15; Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. Decades after the last time I was privileged to witness Pop testify, his words (or lack thereof) speak volumes to me about my own attitude toward God. 

The band Shenandoah recorded a song some years ago that had the lyrics;

I want to be loved like that
I want to be loved like that
A promise, you can’t take back
If you’re gonna love me
I want to be loved like that

When I consider all that the Lord has done for me and I remember the humble heart of Pop Sickle, Paul and David I want to modify those lyrics to;

I want to love God like that
I want to love God like that
A promise to never turn back
Because Jesus saves me
I want to love God like that

An Article for Psalm 91 By Dean Marini

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