Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving :

Just another day to express my gratitude for what Christ accomplished. And the more His love transforms me, the more Thanksgiving becomes just an ordinary day and just another opportunity to praise Him in all things.

I was meditating on verses of thanks and gratitude and in more instances than not gratitude is a command. And God's Word says that if we fail to heed this command, even the rocks will cry out in praise (Luke 19). But somehow I think we get it in our heads that we are going to wake up on Turkey Day to the smell of thousands of calories waiting to be consumed, and somehow we are going to conjure up an 'attitude of gratitude' as we spend time those in our life that are generally hardest to love. But any amount of 'conjuring' is indicative of inauthentic gratitude. True gratitude is a choice of humility that springs forth from the heart of one who recognizes their need for a Savior. And we all sense the disparity between authentic and inauthentic gratitude... or I'll speak for myself, I sense this. I watch movies that display the idealistic American Thanksgiving.. everyone sitting around the table...resounding in heartfelt thanks. And then I contrast that to reality. There is a chasm that forms between the idealistic and the realistic, and though I know that I am an eternal idealist by nature (sometimes to my detriment), some part of me still feels that there is something right, true and good in what I see on T.V.

I look to God's Word and see that there is something right, true and good about the idealistic icon of the American Thanksgiving, however it is merely a reflection...a glimpse... of what is Right, True and Good. "For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true" (Ephesians 5:9) God defines these things that we desperately want to be a part of. Getting to know Him is experiencing them...and not just on Thanksgiving, every moment of every day. I release a big sigh of relief when my idealistic self runs away with me again, and I remember that any idealism...any desire for ultimate Good to triumph, has already been resolved in the person of Jesus. There is no need for me to conjure, just to breathe (Let everything that has breath praise the Lord...Psalm 150)

Gratitude is so much more than an emotion-based response to one day out of the year when we reflect briefly about our "blessings" and then go watch the games. No - gratitude is a choice... a choice that we make every moment of every day, regardless of circumstance. A choice of fixing our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. A choice of Christ above the lusts of our flesh. A choice to die so that He might be greater in us. Yes - gratitude is far deeper, far more painful at times, far more real than a nationally celebrated holiday or a fleeting emotion.

And from the grateful heart flows fruit : there is love there, there is joy...there is peace & patience & kindness & goodness & faithfulness & gentleness & self-control. The tree that bears this fruit is a life well-aware of its Savior & a life that sings of gratitude.

And gratitude is not an after-thought. It becomes the essence of one who chooses it. Like the life of my sweet sister (in Christ) Karen, who's husband is battling cancer right now. She sees with clarity that gratitude is a choice... a choice that rescues her and frees her and gives her strength amidst the painful, confusing, and dark circumstances that threaten to engulf her with fear, anxiety and bitterness. She gets that the humbling task of gratitude is a light yoke compared to the weight of what results when it is not chosen. She gets that the pain and uncertainty in her life are not ultimate... that God is sovereign. And she gets that by choosing to focus on all she has in Christ and taking the thoughts captive that call her to wander towards disillusionment, comparison, and despair... life can be experienced fully and abundantly even in the midst of trial. This is genuine Thanksgiving and Karen's life exudes it.

Every time I talk to Karen I am amazed and spurred on. Every day is thanksgiving for her. Sometimes it's a tear-filled, heart-wrenching, feeble expression of thanks... other days it's joyful laughter. But what it never is, is a victim or response to circumstance. May that encourage you as it has me, to not simply set aside one day out of the year but to set aside our hearts every day besie the altar of thanksgiving.

Some great quotes to ponder as you give Thanks today and always:

"Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road." [John Henry Jowett]

"In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich." [Dietrich Bonhoeffer]

"We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction." [Harry A. Ironside]

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." [William Arthur Ward]

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" [Psalm 150:6]

"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." [Apostle Paul - 2 Corinthians 9:15]

"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." [Hebrews 13:15]

43 comments:

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