Above: The Fam.
There is so much to be thankful for. The wise Joe Walsh once said, “I can't complain but sometimes I still do... life's been good to me so far...” and I think most of us can resonate with Joe on that one. I thank God for my amazing family: Mike, Deanna, Lauren and for Dungeness Community Church, Upperroom, and Avondale Baptist Church... some of the best folks I know come from these places. I thank everyone for the continued support, encouraging emails, phone calls and most importantly your prayers. What a blessing this journey has been. I'm going to try to minimize complaining this year.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone,
I typed the section below a few days ago as a reflection on previous months. It was one of those moments when your brain is so filled that stuff just needs to come out or you're going to explode. This is one of those explosions. I didn't post it earlier because I didn't like it, thinking I would come back and fix it... but today I decided to just leave it the way it is.
The only place of safety is where we faithfully live out the gospel in it's completeness. When we live out the gospel, we participate in the resurrection life of Christ. It's exciting to think about and proclaim the returning Christ when one day Heaven will be transfused with the Earth that God deemed good, very good. We need not forget though, the participation in the life of the cross, where we go through trials and explicitly put to death things in our lives that were already dead. Can't have one without the other, if you want to eat cake, you're going to have to eat some flour. Health and success aren't the locus or litmus test of Gods provision and blessing, do we only accept the good things that God has given us, then reject him when we face adversity? It's funny how when wrestling with whatever issue presents itself to us at the time, we can lose sight of the larger picture. When in pain or in suffering, sight becomes shortened, things look dismal. It was just one more issue dealing with a nasty skin condition that disheartened me, during that, I never ceased to praise the risen Christ. My hope for the future though was thwarted briefly as I couldn't look or plan past the sores on my legs. A philosopher I once read said that the absence of pain does not constitute pleasure, but a man in the midst of his suffering might truly think so. He would take what was considered normal as joy over whatever ails him. He can visualize the pleasure it would bring him to be free of his captor. Reflecting on this, I've come to thank God for the tremendous amount of normalcy that my life has consisted of. Everything has always worked out, and it always will until the day I'm no more. It's easy to get wrapped up in lifes extremes, the resurrection life of triumph and beauty, freedom from death and the expectation of the returning Christ where all is right... this is the ideal, (now) not yet fully realized. The other extreme being the participation in Christs death, tribulation to overcome... this is life now. Dietrich Bonhoeffer breaks these parts down in a easier to comprehend version of garden life. The stunning rose requires at its base manure of the foulest sort. To focus solely on the rose is to forget its roots and to focus on it's beginnings is to miss the heights and grandeur that are in store for it. Some Christians focus on the manure, some just want the rose- if anything fruitful is to come of either, we must embrace both aspects. We so desperately want now what our Christian hope beckons us to hold on for in faith; the day when everything is made right. We need to hold the life of the cross and resurrection in tension, flowers and manure. In refusing to face difficulties in favor of the ideal, we turn our back to real people and situations, missing real life and the ability to relate to the hurting. The Christian is called to be content in whatever season they are in, whether continual blessings or sickness- being in either situation as not a gauge on how your spiritual life is. As never before in my life, I've experienced the frailty of my body and it's limits and it's increased my thankfulness of “normal” life. Normal is a blessing, a blessing we readily miss out on. As I sit here today, I'm so thankful to be typing this in jeans. In days previous my legs were oozing nastiness and the abrasive nature of pants caused a lot of pain. May I continue to be thankful of this normalcy. As children we prayed oft repeated simple prayers about being thankful for this and that. Do we still do that as mature adults? I bet we would be more thankful for that food that sat in front of us after missing a few meals because we didn't have the money to buy any... we wouldn't know the level of thankfulness that was actually proper until we had experienced that separation and returned back to what was normal. Normal is a blessing. I don't believe God sent me the past months health woes to punish me for anything, but I don't want to miss out on the flowers of revelation that came from the manure. Oh to be aware of the loving God's presence and to see his steadfast provision in times of plenty and need! Praise your name God. Your Kingdom come.
Above: This song has been a real source of encouragement for me. I hope you enjoy it.