At Thanksgiving we typically take time out of our busy lives to pause to remember all of the things we are thankful for. We look at our families, our friends, our homes, cars, and the multitude of creature comforts that living in an affluent country affords, and we count ourselves blessed because of them. I don’t want to negate this practice or call it irrelevant, because it is sometimes hard in our fast-paced lifestyles to remember to be grateful. I, though, was struck this morning while praying with my church family. We were called to pray, thanking God for all of the above mentioned things, but, instead, I felt the Spirit moving me to be thankful for quite the opposite.
As much as I have to be grateful for in creature comforts and luxuries, in family and relationships, I felt called to be thankful that this world is not my home. That I do not need to spend my life chasing wealth or comfort or acceptance from others, that if God called me to give up everything I own and if I lost everyone that I love, I could still be thankful, because I have a hope beyond what I can see. I realized this morning that if I based my gratitude simply on my circumstances, I would be missing the bigger picture.
In Philippians 3, Paul says, “7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” This morning, as I prayed, I heard my Heavenly Father telling me that everything is like garbage, trash, absolute filth, compared to knowing Him and becoming like Him.
This year has been hard one, because God has called me to give up a lot of my freedom, my time, my rest, my solitude, my opportunities. He has called to give up myself in a way that is so much bigger than my capabilities. He has called me to spend this year doing what I feel inadequate to do. I have spent many days holding on to my sanity by my fingertips, unable to sleep for the nightmares my stress induced, and going months without the quiet and aloneness that recharges my introverted soul, and, yet, through it all, I have seen God’s amazing goodness. I have felt Him holding me, carrying me, telling me that where I am overwhelmed, He is in control. Telling me that where I am afraid, He is undaunted. Telling me that when I am exhausted, I can find rest in Him. Telling me that giving up my life for Him, really means gaining the only LIFE worth living.
So, this Thanksgiving, I am thankful. Thankful that I have a Savior “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Thankful that I get to give up my life for Him who gave me EVERYTHING. Thankful for the blessing of serving a God who doesn’t need anything, yet longs for me. Thankful that home is yet to come.
Philippians 3 “13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”