Thankful in All Circumstances
November 24, 2021
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:15-17
Thanksgiving… that word holds so much more than the parts, the act of saying, “Thank you.” Soul Sisters has been an important part of my thanksgiving today, beginning with the first retreat I attended. After years of ministry and mission work, of being the one to take care of everyone and everything, I arrived very sick, and spent the first 24 hours mostly in bed, which, thankfully, was just off the main hall. I basked in the messages and soaked up the worship. I’ll never forget Chris Baxter, after she finished teaching, quietly slipping into my room, laying a tender hand on my forehead and praying for me. At mealtimes, special food was prepared for me.
In a way, it was hard to take the special treatment – a sign that I was needy … but I was. I didn’t want to be, though. And I certainly was not thankful for it.
On Saturday night, I’d moved to a couch in the side room where I could see the speaker, Missy Gowen Washam. It was incredible as she brought anointed healing to deep, old woundedness. She finished with a powerful exercise with intercession. I felt great physically, and elated, feeling healed of old scars. I was quick to give thanks.
But that was only the beginning of my healing journey. My health has continued to roller coaster downward. I’m at the point now of petitioning the Mayo Clinic for an appointment. It has been so hard to drop out of ministry positions (though, thanks to operating on Zoom, I’ve been able to continue with a Wednesday morning ladies Bible study). I miss time with friends, family gatherings, my grandchildren, and am no longer the one everyone turns to for help. I spend many days in bed, or the couch if I’m having a good day, and many nights in pain.
In the middle of the night, when sleep is impossible, or on a long, lonely afternoon when my eyes are blurry from reading and my hands cannot hold a book or phone, I have to run to Jesus.
In this place of extreme weakness, “uselessness”, of no power to do anything for others, or myself, I have encountered the love of Jesus deeper than I have ever known. I’ve discovered how many places in my heart I had built walls of protection, which also shut out his love. He is dissolving those, loving on me in incredible ways. Ways he has been yearning to love me all my life.
I’ve also found that he always hears our prayers and always cares but doesn’t always say ‘Yes.’ Someday, when we enter eternity, we will step into the Great Yes! But here on earth we walk through the valley of the shadow. Jesus walked that valley, carried our ‘everything’ to the cross and let darkness blanket the light, ever so briefly, so that it might shine on and in us forever.
I give thanks this year for love that never ends, that seeks us when we hide, that binds up the brokenhearted, and that mourns with those who cry. I give thanks for the hope of the peace that passes understanding, and the power purchased on the cross to free us all. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
Thank you, Jesus for loving us so fully, and doing whatever it takes to get us to let you love us, to receive all you have for us, not just in eternity, but right here. Right now. Amen.