Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and the close of my 12 Days of Thanksgiving experiment. I almost called it a “writing experiment,” but it has really been a “heart experiment”–one that has been very rewarding. I’ve enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that comes with following through on a personal commitment. I’ve enjoyed taking the effort, time and discipline to explore what Thanksgiving means. I’ve enjoyed the simple act of posting to this blog every day. I’ve enjoyed the anticipation of what I would learn. And, I’ve enjoyed being thankful.
So, what have I learned?
I started with a prayer, first prayed six years ago when my heart was in a similar place. Did God answer it? Let’s see:
1. I repent of a complaining and murmuring spirit, and ask God’s forgiveness for taking His character and blessings for granted.
A complaining and murmuring spirit cannot co-exist with a grateful heart. It just doesn’t work that way. In the act of obedience to give thanks “in everything,” even in difficult circumstances or with difficult relationships, I’ve seen God’s mercy anew. I can see that the times when I thought God was only providing half way were really times when God had his merciful hand of protection around me, shielding me from the full consequences of bad decisions or bad attitudes. God’s forgiveness is great, and His restoration is greater.
2. I ask Him to open my eyes to His goodness that is evident in my life, His faithfulness, His love and mercy.
Over the past week or so, by focusing on Thanksgiving, I’ve realized that there are always things, people and situations to be thankful for. We never really hit the wall on that one. Just when we think we’ve reached our saturation point, or added the last item to “the list,” our eyes are opened to something new–if we are paying attention. The unpopular reality is that despair and disappointment is optional. A grateful heart can always provide us a way out, if we choose to re-focus our eyes to see it. As I was reminded in reading Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation, even in the moments we are most insensitive to God’s hand, the magnitude of His blessing overwhelms us. Thanksgiving is a continual feast, should we choose to partake.
3. I choose the thank Him for what He shows me. I thank Him for His works. I thank Him for His character.
It is my choice. Thanksgiving requires a decision on my part. It requires an effort, an action. A “thank you.” Those words, spoken from a re-focused heart are life-changing. Submission to God and obedience to His commands to be thankful are freeing. And, it clears my vision to be able to see God’s true character. God has shown me again so much about His staying power. In the 5th Day and the 8th Day’s meditations, in particular, God revealed again through His word just how much I have to be thankful for in knowing a God so great.
4. I ask that this Thanksgiving season be a new turning point in my relationship with God. Let me “enter Your courts this season.”
Yes, my heart is saying, “let me enter.” Thanksgiving has unlocked and swung open the gate revealing the true character of the Almighty. Praise, motivated by a grateful heart, ushers me into His courts, the place where His character can reign in my life, and in all things. Psalm 100 has proven true. Through a season of shying away from God, I’ve come to a moment of drawing near. And, I’m resting as the verse in James is fulfilled: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (james 4:8)
Thank you, God, for lessons taught and lessons learned today. Thank you for your patience in teaching them again and again. Thank you for the light of your presence in our lives. Thank you for your unending love and mercy that protects, comforts and sustains us. Bless you, sir.