Saturday, November 19, 2016

gobble gobble gobble... or glory be to God?

At 2:30 a.m. the Holy Spirit whispered this question to me,

"Victoria, are you thankful?"

"What, Lord?" Of course, I'm thankful," I thought dismissively while struggling to roll over in my bed. That darn Benny Beagleman, he's taken over this whole mattress again! My arthritic knee throbbed with it's usual "it's raining outside" reminder, and I couldn't relax. I couldn't sleep.

"Victoria, are you thankful?"

I attempted to push my dog with my hips, doing all I could to assume a comfortable fetal position without falling off the few inches of memory foam I could claim. Benny continued to snore loudly, unaware of my frustration.

"Victoria, are you thankful?"

"Yes... yes, Lord. I'm thankful already. Why the interrogation so early in the morning? How about a little help with this knee bugging me?"

No answer.
Just throbbing.
Just my mind racing with a zillion things.
Just a beagle (and Chuck) snoring belly-up beside me without a care in the world.

After several minutes of fidgeting, I finally gave up all hope for sleep and headed to my bathroom. It's my routine, you see... When my leg hurts like this, I have a checklist of different remedies to try out before pulling out the pain killers. I dislike taking prescription medicine and feel it should be reserved only as a last resort. At this point, I had reached the soaking stage and decided that I should take a bubble bath to allow the warm water to engulf my throbbing leg. While waiting for the water to rise in the tub, I started thinking about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Then, as I started to ease back into a more relaxed position, the Holy Spirit asked once again,

"Victoria, are you thankful... really thankful?"

"Hmm. Really thankful, huh? Well, what does that look like, Lord? I know I am blessed to have food, clothing, shelter. I'm thrilled to have a lovely family and close friends. I'm grateful for the salvation and grace that You have extended to me freely. Isn't my acknowledgement of all these things thankfulness?"

I stopped dismissing the simplicity of the question and started pondering what my Teacher was asking.

"Victoria, are you REALLY thankful?"

Mind you, God's question was not about my physical contentment or comfort. It was not about my associations or acquaintances. Nor was His question merely centered around my eternal standing in His kingdom. No, God was asking me to consider something more immediate, more intimate. He was asking me if, at this very moment in time, I was truly thankful and trusting in His headship as GOD of my life, and what that meant in the very breath I was currently exhaling.  In short, was I fully committed to worshiping and glorifying Him in sincere thankfulness RIGHT NOW?

I paused from this depth and randomly started thinking about how this next week would play out. How Chuck and Momba and I were scheduled to "take a few days off" together - relaxing and enjoying our own family nostalgia as we planned to pull out and assemble the Christmas decorations. Then I remembered how I had promised to give each of them a haircut and grumbled inside that such a chore meant it wasn't true time off for me.  I thought about tasks of cooking... how we would be celebrating a quaint Thanksgiving dinner together here in Houston with my brother and his lovely wife whilst the majority of our extended family would be gathered in Chicago. Rather than rejoice, I over-thought our distance from our loved-ones and sighed discontent.  Then, I nit-picked at all my own pesky expectations of what I wanted to finish before even serving our traditional dinner as well as what I wanted to accomplish before Christmas arrived. My mind began to race with the long list we women feel we need to complete. I mulled over how much work and planning "had" to be done. Then those thoughts led me into a negative spiral of how much I wanted to learn and achieve in my life, and how little time I seem to have to do so. Ugh, I was overwhelmed.  I turned off the running water of the bathtub and felt my submerged leg continue to throb like a toothache.

Frustrated, I blurted out loud, "Am I thankful? Really God? No, I'm not thankful! I am not satisfied at all! For today, I already have pain and too much to do! I have many disappointments from many unmet expectations! I have a lot of responsibilities weighing heavily on my shoulders! And, I feel like the people in my life are working against me rather than with me! I have no stress-free moments... no peace... no sleep! And yes, I hate how selfish I am being about all this. I hate that I'm even admitting these feelings to You.  But am I thankful???  Really???  What a question!!!  Lord, how shall I be thankful?"

Silence filled the bathroom as I paused in defeat.  Then suddenly, I felt strongly to get out of the tub and look up two definitions (thank you, Holy Spirit):

Gobble: to swallow or eat hastily or hungrily in large pieces; to gulp.

Thankfulness: feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.

"Point made... I sure am a gobbler, aren't I, Lord? I can't seem to move from one moment to the next without hastily gulping everything in large unmanageable bites. I can't swallow my daily reality with true appreciation or joy because I'm solely focused on gorging myself with the distractions of petty tasks rather than focusing on what You have already accomplished and what I was created to do."

"And what did I create you to do, Victoria?"

With tears, I answered, "I was created to glorify YOU, Lord.  In everything, I am to glorify your Name and focus only on your LOVE."

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 3:17)

By 4:00 a.m. this morning, I was weeping in gratitude over the thorns that once pierced my Savior's head... the nails that punctured His hands... the death He endured to save me. The provision and love and instruction He continues to offer... leading me to be more holy. Teaching me to see only Him. He is risen and I am free from sin in His Name!  And for this, I am eternally sooooo very thankful!  And yet, I still forgot to set my eyes permanently upon his command in Colossians.  I forgot to seek Him first, and consider what that really means in all areas of my redeemed life.

Yes, Jesus gave His life so that I may live thankfully TODAY... right NOW!  In every word...  in every deed.  Always giving thanks in His Name... not mine.  Not because I don't feel like it.  But because HE IS MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL GOD!  By grumbling over my own short-sighted physical distractions, worldly disappointments, unmet selfish expectations, and day-to-day busyness, God's question was indeed timely and crucial for me to understand.  Yes, I was not being thankful.  And my ungratefulness was proof of my own unresolved sinful heart embarrassingly working against my King.  Oh my!  Just as I had complained to Him moments before about all that seemed to be working against me... my heart was not submissively working in cooperation with my Master's commanded purpose!

The Holy Spirit's inquiry was an important reality check that I must regularly ask if I wish to glorify Him always and abide in His Way. For if I am unable to answer God with real, heart-felt gratitude and hope, I know that something has diverted my attention away from His kingdom. And whenever this occurs... clearly, I will have no peace. For I cannot live thankfully when my life's purpose is not being fulfilled... when my God is not being wholeheartedly glorified through every pore I possess.

Friends, to give thanks is to receive and enjoy Jesus in full appreciation. It is not to gobble down a little bit of God here and there, but rather to savor Him in everything He serves you. We are blessed as receivers, called to know His glory. And, we are also blessed as givers, called to share His glory to all the world in every word, every deed, every thought, every moment. As such, we can never be thankful unless He is lovingly acknowledged as God with us... RIGHT NOW... honored before everyone and everything else! (Including our own selves.)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)

Today, I needed the Holy Spirit to remind me of His sovereign rule - even past my present pain and stress. Today, I needed my Teacher to set my path straight again so that I might glorify Him as I was created to do. Blessed Master, how grateful I am for your holy instruction and attentiveness. Forgive my selfish sin and know this very hour how thankful I am that You love me... that you are my God... that you are always with me!  That you will love me forever and ever.

With this in mind, I encourage you too to consider the same question this coming week,

"Are YOU really, REALLY thankful?"

If deep in your heart (for whatever reason) the answer is "no", I recommend you ask God to reveal what is holding you back from your true focus - to glorify His Name first in all matters. Let us no longer gobble up these earthly throbbings or be distracted away from His magnificent glory. Instead, let us repent and lay all our cares upon His altar and allow the Teacher to teach us His goodness.  In word and deed... always trusting, always believing, always glorifying Jesus... always, always being thankful!

Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made... Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Isaiah 43:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Colossians 3:15)

In humble Thanksgiving, many blessings to you and yours this upcoming holiday season!


© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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