Thanksgiving 365

“Blessed be the name of the Lord” Job 1:21b

When life reaches out and pulls the rug out from under me and it is hard to stay standing much less keep up with everyday demands, well, it is time for me to choose to remember.
This is the message God keeps pouring into my heart
I think that, perhaps, I am a great forget-er.
I take in His word and watch His Providence.
I watch how He works things together for good and answers prayers in impossible ways.
Those things and events that are not good and could never be good on their own-I watch how He somehow makes a masterpiece from them.
I experience His ability, willingness, even His joy at providing for my family.
I sing His praises.
And then, I forget.
Another diagnoses, another loss, another disappointment.
It is as if I feel like the new trial, the next heartbreak, that next envelope showing up with $$$$ in red, these will be bigger, too big, for God to handle.
And then, GRACE.
Because Grace is the only kind of love that can pull me back in after I have continually been a forget-er.
Grace is how I am drawn closer to Him, teaching me to lean in, and to see that nothing is bigger than His infiniteness.
He shows my wandering and forgetful heart how ever-present and unfailing His love is.
He shows me He Is. 
And so, it is always a choice.
Grace is always ready, but I must choose to receive it.
I can choose to keep my eyes on Grace, on the Great I AM, on the One Who is not just near, but present with me in my troubles.
I can choose to keep my eyes on the One standing with me when no one else shows up, when everyone else lets me down, or when I just can’t catch my balance after that rug was pulled.

I can choose.

When Job received the news that all he loved had been lost, He tore his clothes, fell on the ground and worshiped.
He had to make the heart choice to lift His eyes.
Despite his lack of understanding about his loss, despite the hopelessness and uncertainty that surrounded him, the lost dreams and his broken heart-He bowed his heart low instead of closing it tight.
It is easy to close my heart, to erect a hard shell around it to keep it from those wrenching feelings again.
It is easy to wrap my heart tight in anger, bitterness, fear and pride.
It isn’t easy- it is actually downright miraculous-when I can choose to worship instead.
And this worship, it puts this world and my short-lived life into perspective.
It reminds me that, really, I am a stranger and exile here on earth and that all of my
white-knuckle grasping just exhausts me—it doesn’t protect me or those I love (it just drives us apart).
Worship reminds me that God knows my beginning and my end, and He knew my today way back before my today even began.
Worship- adoring God- keeps my heart from freaking out. ;)
Because the truth is, even when I think I’ve got things covered, deep down I know that another rug could be pulled right out from under me and there it could all go-again.
This thanks-giving, this choice of giving thanks in all things-this discipline helps me to remember and teaches my heart how to not be a forget-er.
It isn’t just about being thankful for all things, but in them and through them and then looking up to the God that is over them.
The One God Who promises provision and protection, refuge and even joy.
The One Who gives me strength when I have nothing left.
The One Who can change hearts and circumstances, Who doesn’t seek out my heart for the pittance I can offer but offers His heart wholly –in a holy communion-with me.

I often get funny glances when talking about my thanksgiving, my way of worship and keeping my eyes on Him, because taken out of context it could look like a bit of silly positive thinking. Or maybe, it might seem that I just happen to view the world through a rainbows-and-butterflies kind of lens.
And believe me: it isn’t and I don’t.
My heart, world-ravaged and rug-pulled-out-weary, has no room for happy thoughts, quaint phrases and “maxims [that are] proverbs of ashes” (“God won’t give you anything you can’t handle” is my favorite one to hate).

But this practice of being still, of being held in His everlasting arms and seeking to know Him is balm for my broken heart, confidence for my anxious heart and a compass for my forgetful heart.

It is a discipline worth practicing on more than one day a year.

Watching the bird land on that branch, catching the lilting laughter from the next room, seeing a flower spring up in a field of weeds, drinking that amazing cup of coffee-they all point to a Giver of gifts, of a goodness and beauty greater than any earthly creation or humanly mind could ever imagine on it’s own.
Prayers that are answered, provisions that last longer than expected, relationships that are made and mended-these are small evidences of His Grace, small reminders of His love at work in the world.
And it is in finding these moments, I can remember that no matter what my days hold, or how many days I do or don’t get, how many things go according to plan or not, that I was made for one purpose and by One God.
That very same God Who made that bird, that branch, that glorious laughter, that lone flower in the weeds, He is the One Who cares for me and is with me in all of this beautiful mess.
And my purpose in this world isn’t to be the best book reader, blog writer or cookie baker (ha! thank God) or even best mama or wife.

My purpose is living to know and glorify God. 

This knowing Him, it is living this life every day and being present in all the presents He gives-ones I can see beauty in and those that turn to ash (so He can make them beautiful in His time).
So although at times I want to echo Job’s actions and tear my clothes in grief, or pain, or confusion -I can also, with Job
choose worship.
keep my eyes on Him.

I’ve learned that waiting is the hardest kind of worship --but it is the most true.

Waiting is trusting; believing that God is Who He says He is and that He will do what He promises He will do.

He will heal.
He will strengthen.
He will provide.
He will comfort.
He will restore.

Not always according to my dreams, and my goals and my timeline.
But always, always, according to His good and perfect plan.

Sometimes these “rug pulling days” can make me feel empty.
But when I look for His grace, when I keep my heart and eyes open to Who He is, it is then I can truly remember.
I can remember the real heart-hitting truth that “from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace”.
This is a truth that keeps my heart full of His light-even in the dark, stormy times.
I must be willing to turn my eyes to His fullness instead of to the empty places of my life.
And, suddenly, like a wave, grace and joy come crashing in.

It is here, under this Grace-wave, that I can say with Job, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

To stir your heart :
Job 1:20-22 – Job 13:12 – Psalm 46:1-3 – Psalm 46:10 – Psalm 139:16 – Ecclesiastes 3:11  Isaiah 30:18 - Isaiah 61 – Jeremiah 29:11 – Matthew 19:26 - John 1:16 – Romans 8:28
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Hebrews 11:13 - Hebrews 12:1-2 – 1 Peter 5:10 

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