"Praise the Lord, O my soul.
Oh YHWH my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
He wraps himself in light as with a garment;
He stretches out the heavens like a tent
and lays the beams of his upper chambers with their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messenger, flames of fire his servants.
He set the earth on it's foundations;
it can never be moved.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of the thunder they took flight;
they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth...
May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works -
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord."
Psalm 104: 1-9, 31-34
I drive a 2004 Saturn VUE. I LOVE that car. I have a former student who refers to it as "The Barbie Jeep." I think that's a bit unfair. It's a very masculine car, in a lovely shade of "Ticket Me" RED. That car has gotten me to Virginia, North Dakota, Tennessee and back. It can hold 5 people and still have room for fishing poles. It has a 6 CD changer in it, and I can play it loud. My Saturn, other than the normal wear & tear, has never had a serious mechanical problem. I love that car.
Oddly enough, every time I get in that car I thank God for it. Of all the other material possessions I own, I am most thankful for my car. I have no idea why that should be the case. But even on my bad days, when the world looks very ugly to me, I always thank God for that car.
Pastor Scott told me once that showing God gratitude is the way to the heart of God. Being thankful and acknowledging God's graciousness is a good way to find yourself growing closer and closer to God. To be honest, I'm not very good at this.
When you have grown up with relative material abundance, it's easy to not be thankful. It's not a willful ingratitude, I do not believe. It's just a matter of taking things for granted I suppose. Maybe that is why people who live on the edge of existence most of the time, are often the most grateful to God.
I have many, many, many things to be grateful for. I'm adopted, yet I have an amazing family. ("Hand picked," they told me.) After the myriad of stupid things I have done, I am still healthy. I live in a incredible country that is incredibly blessed with abundance...and filled with incredibly ungrateful people. I live in a State that is God's favorite from May through October...generally speaking. (I think God spends his Winters & Springs out skiing in Colorado.) I have many things to be thankful for.
It's been dawning on me for a while now that I have other things that I ought to be thankful for. But these are not the normal things that people would be particularly thankful to have.
I struggle with depression from time to time. I was born with a chemical imbalance in my noggin. It's always there, just bubbling below the surface. I am thankful that God saw fit to give me that gift. It goes a long way to defining who I am and how I see this world. (Which I'm told is quite different from most people.) It forces me to wrestle with God quite often. I am thankful for that.
I have done many things that I should never have done...i.e. Really STUPID sins. God was not happy to see me involved in them, but he let me wallow in them for a season. My health still may pay a price for things I have done in the past. This has helped me to see how desperately I need a massive salvation from a massive savior. I am thankful for that.
I am frustrated in my career path at present. I am not doing what I would wish to do. Yet, God has put me in a place that does help me get by...which is a lot better than many in this current recession. More importantly, God has been teaching me many, many things about his kingdom in my current situation. He has also made me love/Agape a few folks that I would not have been able to without this. I am thankful for that.
God drives me crazy! I drive myself even more crazy. There are things in my life and head that I struggle with all the time. I want to live a life that is pleasing to God, yet I can't seem to go more than a minute or two before some sinful thought creeps in my mind. There are things in my life that I struggle with every day to turn over to Jesus. My "Old Man" sinful nature and will fight with all their strength to keep me from turning these things over to Jesus. I want him to take away all of my sinful notions and schemes, yet they remain. It makes me struggle with God every morning when I wake up. I am thankful for that.
If all of the hard things in my life force me to wrestle, to struggle, with YHWH so that someday down the road I look more and more like him, then it is a very good thing indeed. I guess that is what is meant by "The Process of Sanctification." If I wake up and have to force myself to sit down and pray a little and meditate on the bible for a few minutes, then it means I am alive. If my sinful nature resists, then it means I must be going down the right path. If I am forced to confront my willfulness, then it means that God's Spirit is in me because even though my flesh is weak, my spirit is indeed willing. So I AM thankful for that.
I am thankful for all of the good things I have that are beyond count. But I am also very, very thankful for all of the hard stuff too. Thank you.
Most of all, despite me being beyond a handful, and quite often a very stupid, selfish ingrate of a man, you love me anyway. I am VERY thankful for that.
P.S. Every Thanksgiving Minnesota Public Radio plays a program called "Giving Thanks." The program varies from year to year, but they always end it with talk that the British actor Charles Laughton gave ages ago at some theater. He tells the story of when he first saw the Cathedral of Chartres. I love this story. So today when it came on, sure enough I got in my Barbie Jeep...which I love, and went for a ride to listen to it.
If you are inclined, you can find the entire program here. ---> http://americanpublicmedia.publicradio.org/programs/giving_thanks/
Otherwise, you can simply listen to the story below. It's a bit long, but well worth it. Laughton is one of those guys you would listen to reciting the phone book.