I will admit, I’ve struggled some this 4th of July weekend. Not externally. On the surface, I probably seemed pretty normal, pretty involved, pretty loving. Not “struggled” really so much with being on the cusp of having a new baby or when the kiddos get into an argument. Life has been calm, serene. I just came off an insanely hard week at the office, trying to get month close done before I jet off to take care of my family while my wife is on bed rest after Sophie arrives. I’ve tried winding down, but something in my spirit is just “going, going, going.” I’ve tried resting in God, but my flesh is stubborn, willful.
Do you know what I mean, that in your mind and heart you really want to do something, you want to enjoy the moment, but there is a switch in the “on” position in your flesh and you just can’t do it?
It’s been hard to rest. Hard to take my sabbath. Hard to just have the sigh in my soul and collapse into my Lover’s arms, letting his embrace fill me with joy. Sometimes I’ve been on edge, sometimes I’ve been a touch grumpy. It’s not me. It’s not who I am or want to be. Deep within my heart I want to be different. And I realized it last night at 10pm and decided, “I’m resting tomorrow. I’m going to be so much more patient. I want to be like my Father.”
And so I did. I got woken up by the shrill cry of my little man, “PANCAKES!!!” Signaling breakfast was ready. I turned over, half asleep and snuggled with my little princess who had sneaked into our bed sometime overnight. I woke up physically and woke up spiritually. I put my arms around my wife and snuggled with bride, the Bringer of the Pancakes, in the kitchen. And as I stared down at my breakfast, I felt God nudge me with this verse,
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom – Psalm 90:12
My sisters and brothers, I know we all struggle with our flesh. We all struggle with our bodies and our minds, people in our lives. But I want to turn to thankfulness. Like my heart just opens and love rushes out when I type these words. Thankfulness. Some of us have so much, some of us have so little. But the fact that I had breakfast today, a comfortable, yummy breakfast made by my loving wife is a dream to some people, to the lonely and broken. And the starving! Let’s be thankful, giving up the rotting of our flesh’s selfishness and just be thankful to Jesus
…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – Ephesians 5:18-20
Thanksgiving, thankfulness. Like that warm snuggly feeling I get when it’s autumn, right before Thanksgiving, and we are “bringing in the harvest,” letting pumpkin pies cool on the kitchen counter and the smell of a mug of black coffee. When it’s cold outside, but it’s oh so warm and loving inside by the fire. I’m evoking imagery here of a cold Thanksgiving Day, but the imagery applies so well to our spiritual lives. It is so cold outside, spriritually. There are many lost out in the snow waiting to succumb to the loneliness and the shame and pain of the past. There are our own sisters and brothers out there who have been deeply hurt wandering around in the fields and the forests, waiting to be taken in to love. Maybe we can’t all be around the breakfast table at our Father’s House right now, but I just want to say through these words: as a child of God you have a loving family, with a Father who lavishes love on you and a Beloved in Jesus who longs to be with you every day.
Or as Ann Voskamp put it in One Thousand Gifts on thankfulness while staring at Rembrandt during a trip to Paris in the Louvre,
I could bless very God. Not take anything. Not ask anything, demand anything, petition anything. I could simply give something to God…God, He has blessed-caressed. I could bless God-caress with thanks. It’s our making love. I embrace God in the moment. I give Him thanks and I bless God and we meet and couldn’t I make love to God, making every moment love for Him? To know Him the way Adam knew Eve. Spirit skin to spirit skin.
If we want to live life to the fullest, we have to let ourselves dissolve in Christ. He is our Life. Let it go. Let yourself go and just sink into Jesus, his warm sea of love, permeating our very bodies that are his temple. He is crazy about you, madly in love with you. Let that fill you up, let that permeate our minds, and give up the grab on the daily life, and just bless him with thanksgiving. He is so good, soooo good. He loves us so much.
We have four kiddos that we sponsor through Compassion, 1 girl in Honduras (where I went on mission and will have to write about on here one day!) and 3 boys in Kenya. So I usually like to keep tabs on the news in Kenya. This morning my wife blurted out as I was walking through the house, “What happened in Kenya?!” I rushed to my phone and googled it (because our western media takes an update over the latest Hollywood star’s trip to the beach over over a terrorist attack that occurred in a small country in Africa any day) and Al Shabaab had opened fire on a bus in Mandera, Kenya (nowhere near our boys) this past week and we hadn’t heard about it until today. Horrible. If we don’t refocus our gaze, off ourselves, we miss the atrocities going on all around, we miss opportunities to pray for the hurt, for the lost, for those in pain and suffering. I pray over Kenya today, for healing, for justice, for the country to be known as a land where God’s name is held above all other names. I pray protection over our boys and everyone else’s children in Kenya. Because some of those people’s days are over, some are not home with God, some never knew Jesus and never will, some did not have eternal life.
So God, teach us to number our days. Teach us to number them with thankfulness. Teach us to let go of ourselves, letting ourselves melt under the passionate fiery gaze of your eyes. Teach us to love others with wild abandon and never let opportunities to share ourselves, our words and our prayers with others go unattended.
God bless you my sisters and brothers of God. I hope you are having a wonderful day.