I’ve been re-reading some of my all time favorite fiction books: Jan Karon’s Mitford series. I LOVE LOVE LOVE these books. I totally relate to Father Tim and totally enjoy the small town of Mitford and it’s eclectic people. I want to move there!
While reading book 3, These High, Green Hills, I came to pg. 87 and Father Tim was reading a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together: “We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious . . . . . Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things.”
And in keeping with that tone of thankfulness I was reading in book 4, Out to Canaan, and once again Father Tim comes across a quote regarding thankfulness. This time it was a fellow Episcopal priest, Patrick Henry Reardon: “Suppose for a moment that God began taking from us the many things for which we have failed to give thanks. Which of our limbs and faculties would be left? Would I still have my hands and my mind? And what about loved ones? If God were to take from me all those persons and things for which I have not given thanks, who or what would be left of me?”
Right there on the treadmill I found myself awfully thankful for my husband. Despite those little irritations and things that develop after 20+ years of marriage – I LOVE that man! I looked out my window at 5 acres of fences and the barn and the animals. He’s done all of that because he loves me – not because he wanted to have a farm. I thanked God for my children who show me sometimes by the hour what a selfish, me-focused person I am. HOW would God have ever opened my eyes to my own selfishness if I’d never had those kids? What kind of a person would I be if I’d never had to sacrifice for them? And despite the pain in my foot (still) I started running on the treadmill. Because I AM thankful that my foot still works and despite the lingering pain I KNOW that God has healed my foot. I can’t see it with eyes; I can’t feel it with my senses, but I KNOW because my Father told me, that my foot is healed.
I’m thankful that I can think and see and walk and type. I’m thankful for my furry dog that sheds on the carpet, barfs on the carpet, chases the cat, and steals snotty tissues out of the trash. I’m thankful for wonderful friends, spiritual parents, and family (even the ones that drive me up a wall!). I’m thankful for the cats, the rabbits, the cows, the sheep, and the geriatric chickens. I’m so thankful for my church and my Pastor who isn’t afraid to preach the Word uncompromised and the Cross unashamed. I’m thankful for a beautiful home, a full freezer, fridge, and pantry. We have more than the necessities; we have luxuries as well. My husband has a good job with good insurance. We have an abundance of motorized vehicles and toys. And I am so thankful for Christ. For all He did for me – ALL He did for me. He took my sin, my shame, my sickness, my disease, my despair, my heartache, my selfishness, my stubbornness, my pride, my anger, envy, jealousy, and hate. He took ALL of it and gave me His love, His forgiveness, His health, His wholeness, His everything that I need. And He did it for free. He gave me sunrises and glorious spring days. He gave me cold, snowy winter landscapes that take my breath away. He gave me green pastures, still waters, and high mountain meadows. He gave me ocean waves and blue summer skies. He gave me love when I felt so unlovable. He gave me joy when I thought my world had ended. He gave me that man I love and those kids that teach me so much. He gave me the smile in my heart that I can wear on my face.
And I forget to be grateful. And all the time He’s watching, waiting. Knowing that even though we’re a little dense this side of heaven – we’ll eventually remember and we’ll say “thank you” from a heart overflowing. And the smile in His heart will spread to His face.
And That’s What’s Reflecting on the Pond