|Tuesday, Nov. 05, 2002 || Seasons: Autumn|
When I converted the “Summer” point in my Seasons devotion to a more readable format (rather than just posting the outline I used yesterday), I did so before I actually spoke. When I presented the devotion, I shared two stories posted here: ”Multi-tasking can be fatal” and ”In the hot seat”. We all had a good laugh over those!
And even when the trees have just surrendered
Autumn is my favorite time of the year. Indian summer days turning to cold and crisp nights. Flaming hues of red, gold, and orange atop towering trees.
Big, snuggly sweaters with that favorite pair of jeans. Hot tea with honey to sip late in the evening, curled up with a good book. Thick, creamy soups, bubbling on the stovetop and served with warm, buttery rolls.
First days of school and football games. Costumes and candy, tricks and treats as October draws to a close. And of course, that heavenly scent of turkey, gravy, and nutmeg, woven together in a colorful quilt of Thanksgiving aromas.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Everyone came to our house on Thanksgiving. Happy chaos abounded in the kitchen as the turkey was carved, potatoes mashed, the gravy simmered. The ping-pong table was draped with sewn-together bed sheets, dish upon dish laid out, homemade name cards lovingly designed by my sisters and me (haphazard turkeys and pilgrims traced with crayons) placed by our “best" china: plastic Ronald McDonald plates (the only ones we had enough of for everyone!).
Family. Friends. Good food. Thanks.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul writes, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” There is a part of that verse that I don’t like very much: the word everything.
When things are going well - the bills are paid, everyone is healthy, the line at the bank is short, your favorite cereal is on sale - it is so easy to feel thankful. To express our gratitude.
But there are times in our lives when things don’t go so well. Colder winds.
Some of you will remember that our basement flooded this summer. It was the first summer morning that mom (that would be me!) was going to be able to sleep in. Instead, I was awakened to my husband saying, “I am so sorry to wake you honey, but the basement is flooded.”
And as I shopvaced, as I moved furniture, as I carted off dripping cardboard boxes, that one sentence penned two thousand years ago became a mantra in my head.
In everything, give thanks.
I won’t take the time now to rehash the reasons for thanks that I found in that wet and weary mess (but you can go back and see for yourself if you’d like). The point is, I did find some things to be thankful for, even in the midst of 90 gallons of muddy water covering our basement floor.
In Psalm 9:1, the psalmist proclaims, “…I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart…”
That word praise means “to give thanks”. Praising God is not just telling Him how wonderful He is. It is thanking Him for His hand in our life. It is an offering of gratitude for Abba Father.
Sometimes we have to find something we can be thankful for in very painful situations. We may cry out to Abba Father, “I don’t understand, God! Where are You? How can I be thankful right now?”
“My spouse has cancer!”
Peter tells us in his first epistle, “So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while” (1 Peter 1:6).
If I have learned anything over the past two years of my life, it is that pain brings us to the end of ourselves. I have learned the folly of building my life around anything other than God.
If something, anything – a job, a friendship, even my spouse, family, or ministries – take first place over God in my life, the house has to fall. Nothing other than God can ever be enough.
As I think back to that dark and stumbling time, I have to admit that I questioned everything that God had allowed to come to pass. And I certainly didn’t feel thankful!
Oswald Chambers says in My Utmost for His Highest, “Sometimes God puts us through the experience and discipline of darkness to teach us to hear and obey Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and God puts us into "the shadow of His hand" until we learn to hear Him…pay attention when God puts you into darkness, and keep your mouth closed while you are there. Are you in the dark right now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? …When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else once you are back in the light.”
And today, as I look back, I can thank Him for that dark time. I have experienced this promise:
“After you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation” (1 Peter 5:10).
And I have learned to sing.
So as you pull up to the feast this November, think of all the gifts He gives, and be thankful. And know that even in the dark times, we can find thanks. For those are the times when He is teaching You to sing.
In everything, give thanks.
*From the song, Every Season by Nichole Nordeman.
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