Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Verse To Chew On - Give Thanks

People define the Thanksgiving holiday in various ways. Some see it as a great day for football and family. Others as a day to carb load and plan their strategy for the shopping blowout on Friday. Some take 'giving thanks' out of the occasion all together and refer to the the 4th Thursday of the month as simply 'Turkey Day'. And others, like a guy I met on the shuttle between my hotel and the hospital last week, refuse to celebrate the day completely.

I love holidays and wouldn't think of not celebrating one as American and reverential as I perceive this one to be, but I had to agree with a couple of things that Mr. 'No-holiday' had to say last week. One of our points of agreement was that holidays should not be the only time that we connect with the family and friends that we love...we need to slow down the busyness of our lives and cherish the relationships that we've been blessed with through out the year. The second point this man made that bore witness with me was that we should make everyday a celebration of the Lord's blessings in our life.

The Pilgrims paused to pray and give thanks to the Father at the end of a very difficult time. This unique group of individuals had stepped out in faith on a grand adventure that was ultimately filled with hard times and sorrow. For many of us, this last year has carried with it some struggles of it's own in our lives.

If we look hard enough, even in the bleakest of times, I believe that we can find the fingerprints of God and many occasions to give thanks for this year. As we prepare our homes for the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, let's also prepare our hearts by chewing on this verse...

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus"
1st Thessalonians 5:23

As we chew on this let's keep a couple of things in mind...

~Notice that it doesn't say to give thanks for all circumstances, but rather in all circumstances.

I don't know about you, but I find this refreshing. I am truthfully not thankful for a lot of things that have happened to my family this past year, but I can be thankful in them. I'm sorry my husband has had to suffer through so many medical issues this past year, but I can thank God for His peace, protection, presence and provision every step of the way. I thank Him for all of the friends and family that have come along side of us and walked these difficult steps out with us. I thank Him for the empowerment of His Spirit and the goodness of His Word.

What has happened in your life this past year that you would never have gotten in line for? Can you look past the pain and circumstance and see the Faithfulness of the Father?

~Isn't it interesting that this verse tells us that it's God's will for us to give thanks in everything?

Why do you think that is? Giving thanks keeps my eyes on Jesus and off of myself and my situation. As I look for the good, the blessings, I become more overwhelmed by the Lord's presence and less overwhelmed by my current trail. It is said that God inhabits the praises of His thanks is a form of praise. While I pause to praise and give thanks I am engaging in fellowship with my Creator. It takes the tradition of Thanksgiving out of ritual and into relationship which is where the Lord delight for us to be.

As we focus on the true meaning of this holiday and savor the good truth of the above scripture I'm sure that our plates will overflow with a feast of God's abundant blessings in our lives...and we won't even have to walk it off afterwards! =] From my heart to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Bad Taste?

I'm sure you've heard the phrase, probably even used it a time or two, "Now that left a bad taste in my mouth!".

This is a phrase used to describe an event or situation that can leave one feeling that they've just been dealt a blow that was unfair or experienced a circumstance that could leave them feeling bitter.

What types of occurrences would fall into this category? How about a relational betrayal? Maybe a financial crisis? Would health challenges qualify?

After several months of not blogging you may be wondering why I decided on such a cheery subject for my return. Well, my absence from the blogging world has been due in part to a series of unfortunate events that could indeed be defined as leaving a bad taste in one's mouth.

Starting 9 months ago, my husband has been through one series of health issues after another. Some of these demanded expensive and grueling tests, others landed him in the hospital and flat on his back, the latest has required travel out of state in order to seek treatment from specialists. We've found out that medically speaking, the only hope for a cure for my man is an organ transplant! In the middle of racking up costly medical bills, my husband was laid off from work. At this point, he may be too sick to return. I haven't worked outside of the home, (with the exception of occasional ministry engagements), for almost 17 years...I may not be able to search for a job because my husband needs my care. We have exhausted our savings and retirement...blah, blah, blah. Anyone need an Altoids?

I'm not going to kid you. All the breath mints and chewing gum in this world will not disguise the fact that these situations are awful! But you know what, I am not left with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Some of you might assume that means I'm floating down that river in Egypt...Denial =]. Others of you might try to give me some credit for being a strong woman by nature. I am a stubborn gal, but any ability that I have in and of myself to endure all of the challenges of these last 9 month was exhausted a long time ago.

So, how can I say that these challenges haven't left me with a ginormous case of bad breath? Life has indeed given my family a holiday sized plate of bitter tidbits, but God, (don't you just love those 2 little words - but God?), has shown Himself faithful to us time and time again!

You see, as this blog is titled, I have had the opportunity to Taste and See that the Lord is Good! (Psalm 34:8a).

In the midst of our mess God, by the mercy of Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit, has given us the grace needed to endure, the peace that passes all understanding, promises from His Word to cling to and friends and family to encourage, help and pray for us.

Our situation is big, but our God is bigger. We have made the choice to trust in His goodness and faithfulness and love toward us. Putting our focus on Him doesn't just make the challenges of life palatable, (like holding your nose while trying to choke down your least favorite food), but growing in intimacy with Him out of desperation leaves you with a taste in your mouth that is sweeter than you can imagine! As another Bible verse puts it, "He satisfies me as with the richest of foods".

Are you faced with a situation today that could leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth? Seek the Lord and allow Him to fill you with His goodness. You don't have to wait for life to serve you a big plate of 'yuck' to savor the sweetness of the Lord. Even if you are in a great season of life, or are just experiencing calm, you can still be filled to overflowing with His sweet presence if you just seek Him!