I seemed to be at a loss as to how to share with the world all the things I was and am thankful for this year. Many had posted their thankfulness list on Facebook throughout the month of November. I did the list last year and pretty much kept up with it each day but my heart and mind could not settle on this notion of listing all the things I am thankful for for the sake of posting, it was something more internal this year. Something I believe God wanted me to communicate with Him intimately. And so began somewhat of a different focus on Thanksgiving.
I saw a prayer on a devotional post several months ago and it sparked something within me and so I began praying it also, “Lord, stir my heart, awaken my soul!” I told my oldest son about it and he said he completely understood. He himself felt the urgency to wake up! We all have been sort of asleep at our house. As if waiting for something or someone to wake us all up with a bang. But after some discussion we decided we did not want to be caught asleep at the wheel so to speak if it just happened to be the rapture.
After some ‘soul searching’ among us we found that we each had settled into a comfortableness, almost complacency. For my son and daughter-in-law it was looking for the next place to be. Somewhere else God was calling them. The Lord began to speak to them about being called right here. Where they are now. So a spark was lit for them as well. When we compared notes on the last few months we understood that God was moving us to wake up together. I believe we have been lulled asleep by the insanity of our world. Bad news every day on every level of humanity. We tune it out because it overwhelms and it causes us to be tempted to give in to the fear it brings with it. We turn inward hoping it does not touch us and we begin to show the signs of walking in the flesh by the lack of concern or compassion we show others. Our love flickers to a small dim flame because we have our eyes on the waves and not on Jesus.
We believe the themes of the messages we have been hearing are simple and back to basics. Back to the simple gospel of Christ and the sold-out worship of Him. No idols standing in His place. No program or plan to replace Him. No monotonous “Christian” thing done each day of the week. No box checked on Sunday morning. Just an overwhelming sense of love flowing from our hearts that spills onto others in acts of kindness and mercy. We question are we grateful, thankful to the God that saved us, changed us and is daily conforming us to His image or is it because of what He can give us or do for us? Are we living out of the gratefulness and walking thankful lives by our actions?
I heard a message on the radio by David Jeremiah and I am sure it was no coincidence, he said, “You worship the one you trust and you trust the one you know.” He was preaching from the old testament book of Habakkuk. I love that book. The short three chapters are so huge with a message of pure worship. The conversation between the prophet and God about a people who turned their backs on God and hearts to idols, he pleads with God over His decision to use the Babylonians to bring judgment on the children of Israel by taking them into captivity. The fact is God will use any and all things to turn our hearts back to Him. When the prophet comes to face to face of the inevitability of what he and his people will endure he still worships the one who created him. The one he knows.
The prophet ends his rapport with God stating that if there is nothing left, there is still God. He will rejoice in Him and have joy in his salvation. He trusts God for his strength and he knows that God will exalt him through difficulties if he remains faithful. Or at least that is what the Lord speaks to me through words of Habakkuk. I know first hand the touch of God’s hand in my life. I have seen Him make me clean after a venture into sin. I have seen Him make all things new. I have seen Him raise many in my family from spiritual death. I have seen Him restore to me the years the locusts have eaten. I have seen. With all the wonders of God’s miracles in my life I still have not seen what He has prepared for me in Heaven. But I know He has because He said so.
If I am asleep or awake God is still present. He speaks to me through so many things, through His Word, music, people, children, nature and circumstances. He even times His messages so that they are heard with eyes and ears that are prepared to hear and see them. I have been asked the question, “How do you know God is there, how do you see Him?” I believe it is like connecting the dots. I loved doing that as a child. I would try to figure out what the picture would look like before I put the pencil to paper. I followed the numbers with my eyes and drew the lines in my mind to try to guess the outline. But it was not until I actually drew the line from 1 to 2 and then to 3 that I could actually realize what the artist had envisioned. The closer I got to the last number the more clear it came into view. And at last I could see the form. There was some satisfaction or surprise in seeing it for the first time. Partly because I was a part of the process, there was accomplishment and partly because I followed the correct path to the end.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.~Jeremiah 29:13
It is much like this when you seek God. The daily readings connect to the messages heard throughout the day connecting to the conversations you have with others. Which all connects to the circumstances you travel through on your way to the end of the day. And in the stillness of the night or the calm quiet time you spend with God or even during the morning service Sunday morning He brings it all together in your heart and mind. The two synchronize the connections and voice speaks to you through the Holy Spirit of God. He is saying, “I see you and I hear you, you are chosen and you are mine.”
That happens to me many times. This past Sunday morning is no exception. Our Pastor had us all bring a box to church early in the year of 2013. He called it a “Praise Box.” He wanted us to get in the habit of praising and thanking God each day for His blessings in our lives. We were to bring notes, songs, poems, pictures, scriptures, prayers or whatever we wanted to put in our box to praise God. It was not to share with others but between God and ourselves. As part of our Thanksgiving week we took our boxes this Sunday and went through them to look back on all the things we put in there through out this past year. What sweet memories there were for me in that cardboard shoe box. Giving thanks for all God had done in my life and that of my families. All He gave and all He took.
A wedding anniversary, high school graduation, a baby shower, a death, a celebration of a life, a birth, a son going off to Army basic training, a wedding and a few salvations. All this year. Life in all of its forms passing from one thing to the next with God ever-present in it all. And then as I went back through the dates of the slips of paper I arrived to the very first one I slipped into my box. No great event happened that day, just an ordinary day but a verse that God had given me. It was written out word for word.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. ~ Hebrews 12:28
I did not even notate the reason for writing it down other than the fact that it was significant that day. The awesomeness of God, giving to us the gift of salvation that can never be taken away and a life in Him that can never be destroyed. A God who is more powerful than anything known to man. A God who chose me to serve Him with all my heart, mind soul and strength. And why did I gasp when I read that verse? Because He again gave me the very same verse last week as I have been praying the prayer, “Lord, stir my heart, awaken my soul!” What do you think He wanted me to see? What dots was He connecting in my life? I believe that no matter what happens in my life, no matter what losses I suffer, no matter what blessings I gain my worship has to be grounded in humility and my walk has to be the picture of gratefulness. Nothing else will do when my works are judged by a consuming fire the day I stand or kneel in the unshakable kingdom before my awesome God!
Grace to you all who have come here,