If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s that thankfulness is a manner of being. It’s something you either shroud yourself in, or something you try and pull on like a tight pair of jeans straight out of the dryer. I find the former much easier!
All around me are posts about thankfulness—because at this time of year in the US, we’re celebrating Thanksgiving. I could list a thousand things I’m thankful for—but someone else might not have one of those, and I’d leave them feeling less. And confusing monetary and health advantages with being blessed by God is fraught with issues. So instead of being thankful for singular things, I’m going to encompass them. No…that’s not cheating!
The other day, outside of my bible study class (Bible Study Fellowship—if you’ve never attended, you need to!), I was waiting for my friend to pull her car up for our ride home. The sun, having been in hiding for well over a week, blazed down, blinding us all.
As I waited, enjoying the musky smell of fall leaves and wet bark dust heating in the sun, a grandmother walked by, holding the hand of her sweet toddler grandson. As soon as they left the shade of the building, the little one grabbed his face, covering his eyes from the blinding light. She gently pulled away one of his hands and led him from the building, across the parking lot.
His free pudgy hand still clumsily covered his clenched eyes, and she smiled down lovingly at him, encouraging him on with her kind tones, leading him. He didn’t peek in between those fingers. He didn’t pull back and ask what she thought she was doing leading him into traffic without his being able to see. He didn’t panic. He just toddled along, his hand in hers, completely trusting grandma to take him wherever he needed to be.
I was immediately reminded of the lesson I’ve been learning in Bible study (on my own and this class): God is completely trustworthy. Not only when I can see where I’m going. Not only when I’ve got an inkling of the future—but always. Even when I’m blinded by my circumstances. Especially then, I’d say.
So that’s what I’m thankful for most of all. My Father’s hand leading me and drawing me, with love in His eyes, compassion in His touch, and gentleness in His voice. He never lets me go.
The happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours!
Psalm 139:9-12 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. (complete passage here)
We’re wrapping up the old year and bringing in another brand new year. Goodbye 2014. You were a challenge to me. I had some of my greatest writing achievements (a second book published, up for some awards, won an honorary award) this year. I also faced a long bout of multiple illnesses–it was a very hard spring and summer.
People I’m close to faced some pretty unimaginable trials last year–many are carrying on into the new year. I’d like to say tomorrow is a brand new day with no problems in it–that it really is altogether new and spotless, that being a new year carried some guarantees of wellness and will be trouble free. But I can’t. This new year will have high points and low for everyone I know. But I take comfort we can face anything if we’re trusting in the Lord.
In my prayer time recently, I began to feel uneasy. Some of the things I’ve been praying for a very long time. Was I praying right? Did I have the right words, the right faith, the right posture? Was my heart right, my intentions good enough? At that point I was reminded that I could never pray right enough to convince God of anything. You see, I’m imperfect. I sometimes have selfish motives. I can’t see the big picture like God does (who planned our Lord’s birth over thousands of years down to the last detail). I don’t know if removing a trial from a loved one’s life will, in the end, be a detriment instead of what God intended using it for (drawing them closer to Him usually figures in that equation). In fact, when it came down to it, I didn’t know anything at all. Well, except one thing–these circumstances I prayed for, they all needed God’s hand of strength, of peace, of patience, of healing. The details were not up to me, they were up to Him.
Jesus said to pray. I pray. Jesus said to ask for whatever I need in His name. I do. He also prayed the night before his arrest and conviction: “Not my will but Yours be done. *
That removes a lot of pressure, doesn’t it? At the end of us and our ideas of how things should be, it’s enough to pray, “Not my will but Yours be done.” I know I can pray that with all confidence because I trust Him. I know His attributes: He is the God of love, of mercy, of strength, of peace, of comfort, of provision.
Trust comes in every relationship as intimacy deepens. You share, they share; you listen, they listen; you’re there for them, and they are there for you.
Do you trust in the One who hears our prayers? If you’ve never given your life to Jesus, if you’ve never admitted your sin and need of Him and asked Him into your heart, then that first step of intimacy is missing from your life. You’ll never learn to trust Him if you’ve never met Him. Relationship with Him begins with that simple prayer.
But then it goes on. It has to or you’ll never get to know Him the way He’d like you to. Think of it this way: It’d be as if I met you on the street, we had an amazing bonding experience, and then you never spoke to me again.
I pray this new year will be full of blessings, but especially full of intimacy with our Lord. I pray for Him to work out His full, perfect will in your life.Read More
I’m always struck by the offerings of gratitude and thankfulness at this particular time of year. In the US we’re readying for Thanksgiving, a day we ponder and feel thankful for all the gifts and blessings we have received in our lives. In Christian homes, there is prayer and thanksgiving to God for these gifts. This makes sense to me–being thankful in general to a non-sentient universe (as the media portrays thankfulness) always leaves me wanting.
I enjoy reading daily posts of what people are thankful for on Facebook as they take a daily census: their God, their family, their freedoms, their health, their abilities. All in all, good things. I’m also thankful for other things: struggles, obstacles, hardships, because through these things I am learning what it means to persevere. I’ve learned that the Lord is my strength (truly) and my shield. I have learned He is my protector, my King, my worthy Savior.
I love this time of year, when the mountains are emboldened around me turning golden, red and orange. I gaze in wonder as the sun blazes bright through the last lingering leaves on the maples outside, striking my window and filling my bedroom with the warmth of color and heat before winter arrives full-force. I open my living room window and watch the wild finches flitting from branch to branch, scrambling for seed we’ve left outside as they prepare for cooler temperatures. Their lilting chirping sounds full of expressions of contentment—and sometimes warnings when the scrub jays arrive unannounced—fill my spirit with sweetness.
Today, I’m thankful especially for nature, for God’s fingerprints on creation that remind me of His appreciation of beauty, His authorship of our world, His mighty love for us.
Psalm 100: Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.Enter his gates with thanksgiving,and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good;his steadfast love endures forever,and his faithfulness to all generations.Read More
When I was a kid, I’d spend the summers with my dad1 and mom2 in Idaho. Most of the time, July 4th would come as part of that visit. We’d often go into town (a 45 min drive or so-my folks lived in the sticks…er…country) and watch the parade. Floats would all reflect local businesses and this one guy with about a hundred Corvettes in his collection would have them all driven through town. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but it seemed like a hundred! Then we’d go home for our meal and company. My mom2 would make all kinds of yummy food, she’d set out all the 4th decorations and we’d usually have friends over. In the evening, though, we’d drive into town once again, park near a baseball field and lay out blankets for the show. If felt like the whole countryside turned out. There was this all-inclusive feel. We’d see people we knew, we’d visit for a while. I remember heat and mugginess. And killer mosquitoes. As the night fell, and the sky darkened, people would tune their radios to the same channel and patriotic music would play as the pyrotechnician (read crazy folks who may or may not have been professionally trained) set off fireworks.
The part that most sticks in my memory, though, is the bonus show. More often than not, God would show up for the fireworks. Or, at least, that’s what it felt like to me. The clouds would roll in, and off in the distance, we start to see another kind of show. One of lightening, and as it got closer, booming thunder. Bright lights would flash against the silhouetted backdrop of the surrounding mountains like a ginormous flashlight being flicked on and off in rapid succession. It would grow closer, but not dangerously so *usually*. It was just enough to create drama, excitement, and cool the air down a bit. The techs would light off the finale and we’d scream and cheer. Sometimes the rain would come–or hail, and we’d all drive home. On the years when the storm was missing, I always felt a bit cheated. And lonely.
I’m reminded that Romans 1:20 says “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
What special things did your family do for the 4th? Or for my international readers, your national holiday celebration? I’d love it if you’d share a memory below. I hope you feel the Lord closely this celebration, thanking Him for the freedoms we have, and praying He’ll continue to hold us all tightly in His mighty hands as He continues to reveal Himself to us.Read More