My son Leighton had an opportunity to attend the Final Four at the recent NCAA Basketball Championship in Indianapolis, IN. The college my son attends (Baylor) was in the tournament and he was one of fifty students offered the opportunity to travel and cheer on his school. It sounded like a great opportunity, but as is often the case, it would require some sacrifices. First, he had to figure out how to complete all his necessary schoolwork. Next, he had to prepare for a long bus ride – 17 hours or so – one way! Then came the details. What was his travel budget for food, events, etc. Fortunately, his hotel was included with the tickets.

It turned out to be a once in a lifetime experience for my sports-loving son. He saw his team win their semi-final matchup, a desperation heave from half-court in the other epic semi-final game, and ultimately a National Championship win a couple nights later. All this for around $200. He made new friendships and created memories that will last a lifetime. What a blessing from God!

Often the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences require a sacrifice or extra effort on our part. Maybe it means saving now for a vacation down the road – a vacation you are not even planning yet. Maybe it means saving for a house that you can’t imagine ever being able to buy because the housing market has things completely out of your price range. Maybe it’s saving a few extra vacation days in order to do something completely unexpected. Whatever it is, be open and ready to receive the blessings God has prepared in advance.

We often hear the stories about how God has blessed someone – and often at a time when it was most needed. But what about the times when God has called you to be the blessing? It is easy to see the blessings when we are the ones receiving them – especially when we have been praying for them. What I think we often miss is the opportunities to meet a blessing in someone’s life. Maybe you own a time share that you offer to a friend who you didn’t realize was going through major challenges and just needed quality time away. Maybe you volunteer to help a friend who was hesitant to ask for help with a project that they would have struggled to do alone; or maybe you felt God encouraging you to call a friend you haven’t talked to in years, and you find out that they have been facing challenges in life and your encouraging voice is just what they needed.

Leighton was a college student feeling burnt out from the past year of COVID, remote learning, and a heavy school load; and a friend of his who won the ticket lottery was allowed to bring one guest – and he asked Leighton.