Praise the Lord, my soul.
The wind came rushing down from the mountains, bending the tall Poplars that stand in line by the pasture. The birds, roused from their midday rest, took flight from the waving branches. I watched them beat their wings against the wind to make their way across the field. The clouds, too, scurried across the sky, tumbling over one another in their hurry.
“What are you up to God?” I asked.
“Playing,” God answered.
“May I play, too?” I asked, and started running, chasing the clouds.
God laughed. “Of course, Sparrow.”
A burst of wind brushed past me, lifting my hair. I stopped running and stood in its energy. I raised my arms out from my sides and twirled, like a little girl. Dizzy, I dropped to the ground, giggling. I laid there in the warmth of the sun, watching God ride the wind and scatter the clouds in His wake. I laid there in awe of Him.
“Give thanks to the Lord…”
The mercury rose as the heat of the day bore down on the garden. The birds abandoned the feeder in search of shade. Even the busy squirrels stopped foraging under the oak trees. “It’s too hot, God,” I complained. “Can’t you turn down the thermostat a bit?” A butterfly, oblivious to the heat, bobbed from flower to flower. The color on its wings so vibrant that I couldn’t help but smile. “What a beautiful butterfly,” I said as I wiped away the sweat from my brow.
“Thank you for saying so,” God said.
I heard His words and an uncomfortable feeling came over me. I realized that I don’t say thank you to God often enough. I’m usually asking Him to do something for me—asking Him to apply Himself.
“I take back what I said about it being too hot. No need to turn down the temperature.”
“The vegetables growing in your garden will be glad to hear that. So will that lizard on the rock next to you,” God said gently.
I turned my head to see a lizard sunning itself. “Everything is in your hands, I know. Thank you. For everything. Even this heat.”
“You are most welcome,” God replied as a robin landed in the birdbath. I watched it splash about, tossing water up onto its back. When it was done it flew off leaving me with the reminder to stop asking God to do and to let God be. And, to say thank you.
“Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth…”
Last night I decided to brave the rain. I grabbed the woven basket I used for shopping and drove to the produce market. It’s a small family owned store with big tables and bins of fresh fruits and vegetables. The first thing I notice when I walked was the delicious smells! The sweetness of the fruits at the entrance was heady and rich, an intoxicating blend that no perfume could ever match.
As I walked among the tables, I marveled at the different shapes, colors, textures and sizes of the fruits and vegetables. I picked up the produce I wanted and held it in my hand, appreciating it’s beauty and nutrition that would fuel my body. Suddenly, in the midst of the little store, I felt God’s presence in a big way. I smiled. “I know you are here,” I whispered as I pushed my cart past the avocados. I looked at the faces of the strangers around me. I made eye contact with an elderly woman, and she grinned at me as if we both knew we were seeing the God in each other. I nodded to her, acknowledging our little secret.
I made my selections and paid. I decided not to pull up the hood on my coat as I walked to my car. I wanted to feel the rain wash over my skin. I looked down at the beautiful food in my basket and felt incredibly happy to be alive, to be a part of God’s glorious world. I drove home with a prayer of thanksgiving on my lips and a deep peace in my heart. His abundance is so awesome.
“Carry each other’s burdens…”
A humpback whale struggled to stay afloat off of the San Francisco coastline near the Golden Gate Bridge. She had gotten tangled in a web of fishing lines and crab pots. She was floundering and would surely die. A fisherman spotted her and radioed for help. A group of scuba divers came to her rescue. They dove deep below her and cut all of the lines that pulled her towards her demise. When they finally freed her, she swam in circles, celebrating her second chance at life. Before she made her way back out to deeper waters, she swam up to every diver and gently nudged them. They knew she was saying “thank you!”
May we all know the deep joy of giving and receiving that which sets us free, love.
“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”
~2 Corinthians 9:15
My garden needed tending today. I sat on the ground and pushed a trowel deep into the dirt, liberating spent summer annuals from the soft earth. Soon, I’ll plant spring bloomers to fill the barren spaces. The air was delightfully crisp, the sky so blue that it appeared as if someone had painted it.
My thoughts turned to my challenges ahead. As I tried to work out solutions for them in my mind, God tapped me on my shoulder. “Don’t think about the things you fear,” He encouraged me. “Just be glad you are here.”
“Thank you, for reminding me,” I said and plunged my trowel deep into the earth again. It’s a waste of my time and energy to worry about the future. I’m here, right now. That is all that matters.
I looked at the beauty all around me in the garden. I felt the winter’s sun on my skin. I felt the breeze brush past me. What a gift, this breath, this heartbeat. I’m here! So are you. Today, don’t think about the things you fear, just be grateful that you are here.
“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20)
It’s easy to give thanks for the “good” things in life.
But what about the “bad” things? Do we give thanks for them too? Yes! Apostle Paul told us not once, but twice, that we are to give thanks always, for everything (Ephesians 5:20) and “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 5:20). It’s clear that our default position is gratitude, no matter what is going on in our lives.
How can we keep our hearts open to gratitude when things seem unbearable?
We start by knowing that God is sovereign. He’s got control of our experience (Isaiah 46:9-10). We know that He will never leave us (Hebrews 12-5). He is there with us in our times of adversity (Isaiah 43:2). We know too that all things work to good to those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28). Our challenging times are temporary and are insignificant in comparison to our eternal rewards (2 Corinthians 4:17).
If we believe that God’s got us in His hands and His heart in all circumstances of our lives,
it becomes easier to understand what the great bard, William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” There’s just life. When we bow to God and give thanks for everything in our life, we find more peace. We know that one day, Jesus will wipe away our tears, and death and the things that cause us to mourn will be no more (Revelations 21:4).
As we ready ourselves for Thanksgiving, let’s remember to give thanks for everything.
Let’s say “Thank you, God” for the hard times, the painful times, the sad times in our lives. Let’s put it all in His hands and know that we are His and we are so loved. Thank you, God, for all you do for us!