Saturday, November 26, 2016

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is over. The turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes are all in the fridge, chillin'. The pumpkin pie is half-eaten and covered with aluminum foil. My belt has been loosened to the last notch just to protect the innocent bystanders should there be a structural failure. Things are finally beginning to get back to normal.

It was a rather typical Thanksgiving in that we did all of the same things we do every year. There was food and family and football. Yet this Thanksgiving felt different than any other Thanksgiving for some reason.

Maybe it's because the Packers are sucking this year. Maybe it's the whinny liberal news media who didn't get their way in this year's presidential election. It could be because I see a nation splitting into different factions and then warring with one another instead of "one nation, under God."

Life in our family is going good. We have jobs, we have food, we have love. Still something is not quite right. I think I figured out what it is though.

The Bible tells us in Romans 12 (among others places) that we are all given gifts. It describes

"We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." - Romans 12:6-8

As far as I can tell through my self-examination I have been given the gift of mercy. What that means is that when someone I love is hurting, I want to help. The helping always makes me feel good. That's not a problem. What hurts is when I WANT to help but am unable to.

There are people I know who are struggling right now. They need help. They need some assistance. I see that need and I want to help. I get that part. But it's more than that. I NEED to help. Not helping those in need eats away at me inside. I causes sleepless nights as I search for ways to come to the rescue of those I love. Sometimes the gift of mercy can feel more like a curse. But that's a good thing. The gift of mercy in His children is God's gift to the hurting.

Perhaps that is why I feel a little down this Thanksgiving. I have been unable to serve some of the people in my life the way I'd like to. For me, my sin is knowing that God wants me to do something and then not doing it.

There is a verse that is haunting me right now. Here it is.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - Matthew 7:9-11

I read that and think two things. First, I feel like I am giving my friends in need stones and snakes. I am not being much help. The second thing is I am not asking God to help them as often or as passionately as I should. And THAT is why I am not feeling 100% this Thanksgiving. It is my own failure at doing what God wants me to do that is causing me to be sad.

Perhaps this story of my failure will be the incentive I need to turn things around and do something. I hope so. I NEED to do something. God has placed me in a position to serve and I am doing nothing. THAT is what must change. I must turn nothing into something. Perhaps then I can get some rest.

Father, I ask you today to forgive us our sins - the things we have done to be sure. but today I seek forgiveness for the things I have NOT done. I pray for strength and determination, that we might actually MOVE, rather than stand still. So, I personally and humbly ask  for wisdom so I may know what to do when called to do so. And I ask for strength, that I would do the things you ask me to do - not in MY name but in yours. We must become less, you must become more. I pray for your mercy so that we may show that mercy to those you have placed in our paths. May we be not only hearers of your Word, but doers of it as well. And may we be thankful for these feelings of inadequacy and helplessness, for they draw us closer to you. All these things I pray in the name of Jesus. Thank you for hearing our prayers. Amen.

Happiness Is Helping Others

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