Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Month of Thankfulness - Day 1

As in year's past, I am LOVING the arrival of November. There is no other month that captures my heart the way that it does. No other time of the year that focuses my heart more on THANKSGIVING;  which to me is GIVING THANKS to our God, Creator, Redeemer, and His Son, Jesus. It primes my heart for Christmas, and it's season of GIVING (I'm a firm believer of The Advent Conspiracy, so I manage to stay away from the commercialism of Christmas, but still decorate, celebrate, and acknowledge our culture's day of setting aside a day to celebrate Jesus' birth - no matter "when it really happened". It DID.)

So today, my thankful heart is centered around SEASONS. I'm so, SO grateful for God creating seasons!
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"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT

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Here in NW Arkansas, the hills have been FULL of the colors of fall. Even though it's peak is past, there is still color to be found; sometimes in the most unlikely moments. Just a few days ago Mark and I drove down the main road closest to our home, and the "dead" of the trees, mixed in with a dreary sky, somehow turned them into vibrant oranges, golden yellows, and rich browns against an evergreen pallet. It was beautiful! I asked out loud how God does that. How does He turn dull and dreary into spectacular? I know He can do that in the sparkling light of the sunshine on a cold, crisp day; but really, in the dreary-ness of a normal, blustery, fall day?

It didn't take long for me to equate that to my own heart. 

When I'm walking in the fulness of Him, I KNOW He is RADIANT and shining through me. My own empty vessel of a life can hold on to nothing - I am His - and He pours Himself through me. It's not "me" that others see: they see Him. 

I love walking in that place.

But more often, I'm withholding something. I'm not empty, but full of myself; full of my pride, selfishness, or even pity. Maybe I'm succumbing to fear, doubt, darkness. Even though I take time with Him, I'm not fully engaged in Him. There's something off. I put myself first. I trust in man over Him. I love something more. It can sometimes be something ever.so.slight. but it's there. Often it's something masquerading as something "good", like volunteering, but my motivation is "good works"- instead of being only His hands and feet. It throws my whole game off.
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...the moment I recognize it, THE UGLY of it, He is so faithful to show me His hand, even there....
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Enter the darkness. The gloom. Depression. Sadness. Hurt feelings. Loneliness. Whether it's seasonal, or momentary, it matters not. It's there, and it's trying to take a grip on my life. I can feel it. I walked in it just a few weeks ago. I allow it to happen over and over. Sometimes I think I know I bring it on myself. Ick.

But the moment I recognize it, THE UGLY of it, He is so faithful to show me His hand, even there. Even when I am in the wrong, He is teaching me. Even when I am not in the fulness of Him, He is sustaining me. He is showing me the beauty in ashes. 

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"Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid..."  Psalm 23:4 NLT
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Hallelujah!

So I am in favor of the seasons. Seasons of growth, fresh, new, and full of life. Seasons of peaceful lying in green, mature pastures. Seasons of death and pruning, drawing in near and pressing in hard to Him. Seasons of reflection, contemplating my past and gazing forward, seemingly finding the journey and the lessons it's held - where it might lead. 

Each one is precious. Necessary. The fertilizer and nourishment for me to behold, then use, applying no matter how painful it is; trusting Him to use it for a more fruitful season around the corner. New growth from those cut back cuttings. New fruit to bear in good season. New ways to respond, reflect and mature. He does it all the time, in nature, and in my life; spiritually and physically. 

His mercy is new every morning, His promises true. He walks with me, and I'm reminded of the 6 short verses of David's 23 Psalm:


The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.


Thank You God for SEASONS. 

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