I just re-read the post I wrote on Choosing Thankfulness. It was good for my heart to read, to be reminded of the things the Lord was teaching me then and be challenged to apply them now. And that is one of the big reasons I write, journal… to remember, because I so easily forget. So at the end of that post I had written the following excerpt from the devotional Streams in the Desert:
“When they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushments… and they were smitten.” – 2 Chron. 20:22
Oh, that we could reason less about our troubles, and sing and praise more! There are thousands of things that we wear as shackles which we might use as instruments with music in them, if we only knew how.
Those men that ponder, and meditate, and weigh the affairs of life, and study the mysterious developments of God’s providence, and wonder why they should be burdened and thwarted and hampered – how different and how much more joyful would be their lives, if, instead of forever indulging in self-revolving and inward thinking, they would take their experiences, day by day, and lift them up, and praise God for them.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6
Do you know what the Greek word for “every” means? EVERY. What it means in english it means in greek. So I’ve been thinking about that verse a lot this past week as this month of thankfulness hits and if I’m honest, I’ve been selectively thankful the past few months. So starting today, I’ve decided that every day until thanksgiving I want to find something that I’m thankful for that wouldn’t be a common or easy thing to be thankful for. To somehow in this season of loss, find my “instruments” that I know are nestled within the sadness that I feel and the things that Lord is stirring in my heart as a result. I may post each day about what I find, I may not… but maybe you want to join with me these next few weeks in finding your “instruments” too and be uncommonly thankful with me!
I’ve been going through an incredible devotional for this season of life called The One Year book of Hope by Nancy Gunthrie. This week was all about “Life” and began with the passage from Deuteronomy 30:19-20:
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life that you and your offspring may life, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days…”
Every day I wake up and before me is the choice: Will I choose to wallow in my sadness or step into life today? Sometimes I wallow, sometimes I step out of the wallowing and into faith. Somedays it’s easy, most days I have to consciously ask the Lord to help me choose life today, this moment. (now, let me clarify… this choosing life, is not whether I want to live… for some I know that deep sadness can lead to that and those are valid and natural feelings, for me however, its whether I want to step into truly living or curl up on the couch and disengage from life… thus the wallowing.)
As I have been wrestling with this passage Nancy Gunthrie’s words struck me this past week.
“Oh, that you might choose life, refusing to be enveloped by and eventually destroyed by heart crushing sorrow and soul-stealing disappointment! To choose life is to turn toward God with all your heart and soul, to open yourself to new joys as well as additional sorrows. It is to choose to live fully for God in recognition that there is no real life apart from him and that anything else is merely existing.”
Choosing life for me these days starts with laying before the Lord daily this deep longing to be living out the role of mother to my daughter, not being able to and trusting that He has life for me in this season of loss. Trusting that He is rooting in my heart, through my clinging (that isn’t always as clinging as I wish it was), a deeper awareness that life is found in Him, not in being a wife or a mother, or in having a daughter. These things that bring and have brought me great joy cannot be my source of joy and life.
So today, I’m thankful for the difficulty of choosing life each day… because in that the Lord is teaching me (ever so slowly and patiently and in the midst of my childlike resistance) what choosing life… The LIFE He gives and has given really is.