Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Thanksgiving: thoughts today, the American holiday

I have followed Bonnie Gray - the Faith Barista - for several years and enjoy her writing, particularly in her book Spiritual Whitespace.

Today she has blessed me with her thoughts on being thankful, which is also published in Relevant magazine.

Here are 10 ways to redefine gratitude.

And it's not just about 'be thankful because it could be worse'. Cold comfort, at times:
"Here are 10 Ways God Redefines Gratitude
I'm thankful ..
1. I can be in need, so I can go on a new journey to find comfort. “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13).
2. I can feel sadness, so I don't have to live separated from my heart. I can cry and feel afraid because God loves all parts of my story. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book”( Psalm 56:8).
3. I don't have to want suffering, but I can choose to embrace it. Because God doesn't see it as shameful. "Do not be afraid. I have reclaimed you. I have called you by name; you are mine”( Psalm 43:1).
4. I can fall apart, because Jesus carries me when I’ve gone as far as I can go. “Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you”( Isaiah 46:4).
5. For God's promises: I’ll never abandon you. I’m never going to leave you. “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in” (Psalm 27:10).
6. I can finally stop to look at my wounds and investigate how they got there.
7. I'm learning to say no in ways I've never dared—to say yes to me and yes to God.
8. I can remember the dreams I've given up, so I can ask God if any can be made new again.
9. I can ask God, "Is it too late?" and still doubt, because God is faithful even when I'm not. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” ( 2 Timothy 2:13).
10. I am finding new friends who understand that both sadness and joy can co-exist, who aren't trying to fix me. Friends who trust that love is greater than any resolution, who can be honest about their own stories.
We can go on because beautiful things can be found among the devastation of letting go. We can be broken and real, because Jesus still chooses you and me.
If God’s brought you on a journey through a season of brokenness, step out to give thanks. Not because you’re strong. Not because everything is picture perfect. But because you are loved."


I find this really useful. Struggling with a MAJOR decision - yes, really - I have been waking at night, fearful, and trying to remember to thank God in my fearfulness. Not with a 'cold comfort' idea but because being thankful turns my heart from fear to gratitude.

 And, while thinking of decision making, I noticed another little article on the same page in Relevant entitled "When Risking it All for God Means Staying Where You Are Why 'taking a risk for God' often means opening our eyes to confront the uncomfortable realities right where we are....
So how do you know whether taking a risk for God means staying or going? In my experience, it helps to consider a few things:

1. Scripture: Is leaving it all behind detrimental to the things God holds precious—marriage, promises, responsibility, etc? Or is fear ALONE keeping you where you are?

2. History: Did you just take a risk to go somewhere or do something new last week? Are you running away from something or someone?

3. Wise Counsel: What are trusted mentors, teachers, elders, your spouse or best friend saying to you? Has God revealed to them that the risk He wants you to take is to go, or to stay?

4. Peace: Can you have peace where you are or is there peace that comes with making a change? Has God revealed to you any hidden motives? Are you assured that you are already loved and that doing something “risky for God” is not going to make Him love you more?

As I’m reading Scripture, I see countless stories of men and women whose biggest challenge is not stepping out to go and follow God but continuing to follow Him. The biggest risk is often continuing to live in a God-honoring way, day in and day out, when it doesn’t feel like much of an adventure. It seems that many of us are in the same boat—where Jesus might be calling us to step out and walk on water, but He also might want us to just keep paddling.

So...step out of the boat: or keep on paddling? That is a very big question indeed.

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