I write this from a place full of “stuff” – clutter, really, as I seek to reorganize my missions resource library and bring it into the 21st Century. (No more VHS presentations, for instance.) I maintain a home on a widow’s budget. Doctors’ appointments dot my calendar. Family connections, both plentiful and delightful, provide a buffer against loneliness.
I know many people, and even count some as friends, thanks partly to the marvel of the Internet. My mind still produces creative material, even though I wonder if my memory takes frequent vacations. I have ample time to linger in the Word and experience the sweet presence of Jesus in my life.
On this day, by contrast, our globe tips on its side with the weight of regional violence like ethnic cleansing in Burma and Sudan. Civil strife escalates into all-out war. Our nation is as divided politically as it has ever been. Unbeknownst to many North American Christians, the Church outside our country is vibrant and advancing rapidly…not without growing pains, as it were, but certainly nothing like the staid organization we’re used to here.
“Tis the season to…” I woke this morning with that jingle in my head. It helps me dodge the guilt that comes from having so much while so many people have too little of this life’s necessities. It should help that Thanksgiving Day is positioned just before we plow into drifts of over-spending and get stuck without fiscal traction. But, that also puts a guilty pallor on the holidays. And my biblically based sense of giving God, with joyous abandon, the worship He so richly deserves is all but drowned out by the media’s incessant urges to buy more, buy big, buy….to my utter exhaustion.
Are there brakes to apply when my occasional distress accelerates right out of my comfort zone? The answer lies in some strategies that dieters use.
1) Learn to say “no” to second helpings of self-absorption. For instance, my oven pilot refuses to work and my microwave finally admitted its age and died. In the grand scheme of things, how important is this – really? Not enough to dish up stress. My meals will still be served warm and my drinks will be either hot or cold, as I desire.
I may experience frustration, but I will not heap multiple helpings of it on my plate. Being thankful is a muscle that when exercised makes this so. …since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with…awe. Hebrews 12:28 I count blessings along with calories!
2) Balance intake with exercise. And faith is the muscle that must be kept in condition here. I need to be alert and respond to the many opportunities God gives me to exercise my faith in His promises. When Satan whispers, “Did God really say…,” (Genesis 3:1) I can tell him to buzz off with a hearty yes! God says, through Paul’s writing, (paraphrased) “Since I did not spare even my own Son, won’t I, Who gave you Christ, also give you everything else?” (Romans 8:32)
3) Keep God’s truth in focus. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor.4:18) Exaggerated attention to the temporal aspects of life, the visible, is something like our gorging on Thanksgiving Day.
So I end with this strategy for thanksliving: With a thankful heart, maintain confidence in God’s faithfulness and clear focus on His truth. Household of God, let us draw near with true hearts and fullest confidence…let us hold on to the hope that He is utterly dependable and let us think of …how we can encourage each other to love and good deeds. (-from Hebrews 10:22,23)