Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving is not about you

On this beautiful morning, I'm reminded and convicted of my lack of thankfulness. It is easy to reflect on a day where the word "thank" is in it, but what about the other days of the year? I have so much going on around me (in a good way!) that it's easy to lose sight of the things that are really important. Or just go about my day like I have the days prior, just plugging along and minding my own business.

It's easy to be thankful on a general scale, but what about the practical, mundane things that are close to home, to your heart, or in your lap? I know as a wife and momma, I can easily take the laundry or picking up plastic cups that Paige has strewn all over the house for granted. That, is where life happens, ladies & gents. In the mess. Work is messy. It is (depending on your perspective) inconvenient, boring, patience stealing, and joy threatening. Bahhh!!! But, oh how wrong it is to see work that way. We rarely see it as a gift, and that we SHOULD be busily chipping away at our work (WHATEVER it is), one day at a time.

But, that leaves another question, one that actually should be wrestled with first... To whom are we to be thankful for our gifts towards? Yourself? Providence? Good fortune? One definition of gift is receiving something that is undeserved to any degree. I think it's safe to say that most people would agree with that and have experienced being given a gift. But tell me, where is the logic in being "thankful" for a gift when you don't really know who the gift giver is? Or, you hate the gift giver. Yes, I said hate (I'll get to that).

If you've been given a gift that you are truly thankful for, wouldn't you want to express sincere gratitude and/or love for that person? In theory, yes. But far too often is the case where we feel entitled to it and then take it for granted. While all the while giving no regard to the gift giver and wished that they would only show up when we're in dire straits and need help, or to give us more gifts and then go away until one of the two said scenarios happens again. This concept is so backwards and yet, most think it's completely rational (I'm also aware that there is the other side of the coin that some gifts are hated altogether because they're not what we wanted or the timing is bad. I believe that tangent should be saved for another time).

It's no secret that the Gift giver I'm referring to is the Triune God of the Bible. Whether you agree with me or not is completely irrelevant. People can try to reason that it's something else, like other gods/religions, their own deeds perpetuated in situations that have favored them (wait, gifts are undeserved... Silly entitlement), or their own god they've made up in their head, like a combo of themselves and some qualities they like about God. But, without really requiring them to give up any part of themselves. Then, in that case, you hate the gift giver. Even if you do not intentionally hate God, you're not willing to really say that you completely believe everything that the Bible says. Or live like a Christian that loves God's Word and desires to yield your selfish will to His. That, according to God's Word, is still hate. It comes down to taking an inventory of our cold, mean, indecisive hearts and looking at the complete truth of who He is. And in turn, it gives us an accurate definition of ourselves: Unthankful, undeserving, nagging children. When we truly do this, we cannot get around the fact that the gifts that we have received throughout our lives (life, literally and spiritually, for starters) come from Christ. As much as some people would like to rationalize that away with fancy arguments and/or anger, the truth is still there and it will never be able to be avoided. No matter how tucked away it goes in our minds or suppressed by external situations we manipulate. The other alternative would be to never be thankful for anything anyone has ever given you and to live in a state of ongoing, inward tension. Just so that you can try to prove that God isn't the real source of love and joy. Because agreeing to that would mean that you would have to drastically change your life to reflect that truth. Gratitude for something undeserved is a very strong "cause and effect" principle that cannot be squelched. Even if you're determined to be the biggest Ebenezer Scrooge anyone has ever known.

In conclusion, my thoughts are summed up in these few tidbits:

1. We really need to get a grasp of who our gratitude is being directed towards. We cannot aimlessly thank nothing for something. It is Christ and Him alone. And if that doesn't sit well with you, then you need to re-evaluate where your thankfulness is going. Or why you're even capable of feeling gratitude for undeserved gifts at all. Which may end up bringing up about questions like "What is the meaning of life?" and such. And that's good!! Search the Bible, talk with a Bible believing Christian, or visit a church and talk to someone there who can help you work through those questions.

2. Thanksgiving is not about (and never was about) ourselves and how many undeserved gifts we can spout off during Thanksgiving meal prayer. Rather, it's about what God the Father has done on our behalf: Meeting our greatest need and giving us the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. Everything other need (although He is extremely faithful in meeting the practical ones too) pale in comparison. Once our greatest need has been met, we have new life. Our hearts of stone become hearts of flesh. And the things that that we thought were really important aren't anymore. And it's because we have been given a glimpse of the big picture.

3. There are so many things that we think are more important than what we're supposed to be doing right now. How backwards is that?! And rarely, when we do get to the things that we think are important (or think will make us happy), we end up finding out that they're not, leaving us more unhappy, more discontent and more selfish. However, when we look to Christ and the abundance of blessing He has given us from eternity past for all of our life, we cannot avoid being thankful and perpetuating our thankfulness by worshiping him in our hearts as well as enjoying the fellowship of the people that He has put in our lives.

This, seriously, was only meant to be a small Facebook status and I ran out of room!! I was only going to share how I had been convicted of my lack of thankfulness lately and it turned into this. That goes without saying, there are SO many things to be thankful for. Here are the ones that tickle my fancy in particular:

A. What the Lord has done on my behalf because I couldn't do it on my own, even if I tried. And even if I tried, I'd still be completely undeserving.
B. My family (All the Ewings & all the Bones). The Lord has been so good to me in putting me in the family I came from and marrying into the family I'm part of now. I don't deserve either.
C. My husband, Grady. I can't even begin to tell you how thankful I am for him without crying. Pregnant or not pregnant.
D. My daughter, Paige. She is such a joy to our lives and I can't believe we've been given the daunting task of raising her to be a woman of God that loves His Word and cares for others. God really must know what He's doing to be giving Grady & I a task like that!!
E. The life that I carry in my womb aka wombbat (Grady's nickname for Baby lol). The process of pregnancy still amazes me, even though I've been down this road once before. As well as the opportunity to parent this new soul to love God and His Word.
F. The yummy meal and heartwarming fellowship that will be taking place in my home this afternoon. Again, I am completely undeserving in even partaking in something so awesome as this.

Speaking of, I need to get my turkey in the over right now! I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remembering to whom we should be thankful towards!


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