Thanksgiving [in November]

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“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Dear Friends,

On my desk, there is this business card case. And it has the parts of verse 18 of the Bible verse above on it… “In everything, give thanks.” I thought it was humorous when I bought it. I mean, when do you usually need a business card case? Probably when you’re looking for work. And it’s never an easy time.

So why give thanks?

And don’t we often fall into this spiral of complaints? One thing goes wrong, then everything else goes wrong. And there’s so much to be unhappy about. So much to worry about. So much to plan. (I could tell you about the month of November, and my car breaking down. About moving, and unexpected internet hiccups, issues with movers, plumbers, electricians… Work that is piling up, my latest writer’s block…) And suddenly, you no longer remember what it is exactly that is bothering you, but can sense this cloud of doom that’s constantly in the back of your mind.

But we are called to give thanks (and rejoice always).
Why?

For at least 2 reasons:
1) For that which you have lost, turn your thoughts to think about what you still have. (E.g. Yes, I lost the car, but I still have my health and safety. And through this, I learned that I have wonderful friends and family on whom I can depend.)[1]

2) Character lessons that God chooses to build you up (Think Proverbs 3:11-12)

The tests of life are to make, not break us. Trouble may demolish a man’s business but build up his character. The blow at the outward man may be the greatest blessing to the inner man. If God, then, puts or permits anything hard in our lives, be sure that the real peril, the real trouble, is what we shall lose if we flinch or rebel. —Maltbie D. Babcock

Hence, I have learned of late that it is wiser to give thanks to God for what He puts in my life.
…No matter how bad or difficult, I believe there is still something to be thankful for. Life, at the very least.

And the next step is to think about what lessons is God trying to teach me here?
…Two simple steps. But if we were to actually apply them to events that happen in our day-to-day lives, we would begin to see the challenges. But hey! Let’s learn this together.

And lastly, what for?

Does giving thanks make us happier? (Thinking of Proverbs 17:22)
…It could. But I would like to think that we are called to be more than just ‘happy people,’ but happiness is a byproduct of something else we’re called to do.
I think it is because thanksgiving (and giving God praise) is what we are called to do, as part of glorifying God with our lives.
…Because the alternative is a poor testimony of a sad and grumbling soul that does not bring glory to God. But when we give thanks, despite our circumstance, we acknowledge that we know God is still in control (even though we often do not understand the reason), that we know He loves His own, and that we will continue to obey and walk with Him still.

So this Thanksgiving, my dear friends from south of the border. GIVE THANKS! (Wherever you are, and whatever the circumstance. )

I’m ending with a hymn that was share at a friend’s baptism this afternoon.
(Italicized the actions that I am trying to stop and change, and underlined those that I am – by the grace of God – working towards.)

HIMSELF

1) Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
Now it is His Word;
Once His gift I wanted,
Now, the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.

2) Once ’twas painful trying,
Now ’tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation,
Now the uttermost;
Once ’twas ceaseless holding,
Now He holds me fast;
Once ’twas constant drifting,
Now my anchor’s cast.

3) Once ’twas busy planning,
Now ’tis trustful prayer;
Once ’twas anxious caring,
Now He has the care;
Once ’twas what I wanted,
Now what Jesus says;
Once ’twas constant asking,
Now ’tis ceaseless praise.

Take care for now,

ITL

[1] I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt. I haven’t lived for very long, and I have been blessed with many blessings. I have not experienced (or not yet experienced) the many pains others go through with age and experience. With age, things get harder. Yes. People and circumstances hurt us more. Yes. But I would like to believe that the truth of God’s word and plan does not change. And that this all will make us appreciate His unfathomable love and wisdom when His plan is revealed, maybe not ever in our lifetime, but surely when we see Him face to face one day. 🙂
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Daylight Savings Thoughts + We’re moving soon!

It’s daylight savings today, and what better use of the hour than for some good old reflection?
This post was spurred on by Streams in the Desert’s October 20th post on Moving.
(Particularly relevant – I’m getting ready to move later this month, too, actually!)

Taking some snippets from the passage (which was based on 2 Cor 5:1):

The owner of the tenement which I have occupied for many years has given notice that he will furnish but little or nothing more for repairs. I am advised to be ready to move…

It is strange how quickly one’s interest is transferred to the prospective home. I have been consulting maps of the new country and reading descriptions of its inhabitants. One who visited it has returned, and from him I learn that it is beautiful beyond description… He says that, in order to make an investment there, he has suffered the loss of all things that he owned here, and even rejoices in what others would call making a sacrifice. Another, whose love to me has been proven by the greatest possible test, is now there…

Two or three times I have been down by the border of the river that forms the boundary, and have wished myself among the company of those who were singing praises to the King on the other side. Many of my friends have moved there. Before leaving they spoke of my coming later. I have seen the smile upon their faces as they passed out of sight. Often I am asked to make some new investments here, but my answer in every case is, “I am getting ready to move.”

Our time here is short.
What are we doing?
I was reminded today about what counts in life, or what we should do with the few short days we have. And the section title caught my eye: “Love, for the Day Is Near.”

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)

Do you spend your time calculating how to maximize …(Oh, something!) Profit? Efficiency? Productivity?
Do you think about what people owe you, and what you get out of time spent in every human relationship you have?
Do you ask if you put in more in a friendship than your friend does?
Do you think that you’re working harder for the marriage than your spouse?
And you’re so tired. Of trying, of counting and calculating.

So don’t.
Because what we have here is so transient.
And to put so much effort to make sure that you are the one who benefits most, what does that get you?
Impermanent happiness? I’m afraid it will be even less than that!

But Love.  Love in the way that you would be loved (this is the rest of the passage).
Or go further, even for people you don’t otherwise care for, expecting nothing in return (See Luke 6:35).

But why? Because there are promises.
Because your Heavenly Father sees in secret, and He promises rewards (See Matt 6:6b).
Maybe not here, maybe not now, but one day.

But even better than that, when you love as you ought – in the way that God intended,  you might find how freeing that is. The fears you once had about caring more or caring too much for those you love (or should love), about it not being fair that you did more, all that – will begin to go away. Because “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” (See 1 John 4:18).

Yes…We’re moving soon.
And it will be beautiful there, beyond anything you or I can imagine.
Are you ready?

Take care for now,

ITL