Words bled from my pen and my heart onto cards bound for all corners of the Earth today until a hand cramp and a writing callous told me it was time to take a break. I am terribly embarrassed at how long it has taken me to write all the thank you cards that are due from Matt and I’s big day. June is almost over (where did June go? Honestly I didn’t plan for much after the wedding so this month was a surprise. Wait, June comes after May? May 29th comes after May 28th? Huh) and I still have approximately a million thank you cards to write. Let me take this time to say to those reading this that are wondering where their thank you card is… thank you for your patience! It’s on the way, I promise! And I am still really thankful! Really!
As I was writing I was overwhelmed by a sense of thanksgiving. There are so many people represented in our wedding day alone that cause a reason for thankfulness. I read through the cards that people gave us and the kind words of support and love. Who deserves love and support like this? In moments where thanksgiving and blessing come over me like the faithfulness of the tide rushing in, I feel that the only appropriate response is to be brought to my knees and to allow the tears to race down my face in a hot, unforgiving mess.
So much of my life is unfortunately shadowed by doubt and anxiety. The enemy sees this humble servant stumbling and presses on these areas. It has come to be a place where I wonder if I can identify with Paul and the thorn in his side, perhaps my spiritual thorn in my side is this area of weakness? Henri Nouwen said
“Your heart is greater than your wounds”
Praise be to God for that. I am like the man who pleads with God to help his unbelief: yes God, I have seen your faithfulness, felt it permeate through all aspects of my life… yet I am scared. Here I am with my head clenched between my hands and my heart in a fist. Help my unbelief. Let my heart be greater than my wounds.
I must confess: I love being young, in love and dirt poor. It has been only an adventure of a month and has been the greatest adventure of my life. I will forever love to tell the story of how we slept our first few nights in our house with our air mattress in the dining room because it was the only room with AC. I laugh at how we didn’t have propane for 12 days (and didn’t have a microwave) and ate a hearty diet of sandwiches and chips. I love all these moments because when Matt looks at me as we are up to our elbows in the water that is flooding out of our washer and says “I wouldn’t trade a single thing”, my heart flutters. And when I am weeping out of foolishness, homesickness, and stress, he takes my head and places it on his chest and takes my hands and bends my fears into prayers. WE are rich.
During this season I finally made time to read Ann Voskamp’s novel, One Thousand Gifts. I have been encouraged time and time again but honestly put it off because I knew it would be convicting and painful (Wow, Sara is sooooo spiritually mature). And I was right, this book was overwhelming and fantastic. I devoured her words in a literary Thanksgiving dinner. Rushed straight to the pie and didn’t stop until I had licked the plate clean and had to put on sweatpants.
Simply put, praise be to God. I am humbled by this season of being newly married as it is a dose of humility. Until recently, we had no clue how we were going to pay for July’s rent (oh dear Lord, I hope our realtor doesn’t get wind of this). We looked at the numbers in our bank account and the math didn’t add up. In moments like this is my first response to praise God? Often not. I love how in Daniel 3:18, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have just finished telling off the King “Hey, no way are we bowing down to your idol. We love God, like the true God. Go ahead and put us in a bonfire, God has the power to save us.” (Sara’s summary of it, go read Daniel 3) and THEN he says
“18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:18 ESV
But if not.
That is true thanksgiving. That is true praise and worship. Looking, literally in the face of death and being able to stand firm and trust that obedience is enough. That obedience is all that is called of us and all of us should be put into that. This is a slap in a face when I’m worried about stupid things like money and furniture and employment. Ann Voskamp expresses the same obedience to thanksgiving in her novel, not simply when it is easy to be thankful, but all the time.
I’m learning that often the road to thanksgiving calls for humility. I’m learning that trusting God looks a lot like obedience. I’m learning that if I keep showing up, I grow in faith, and thanksgiving is a natural outpouring of that. We serve a God of grace. I am thankful to be a servant to a God that picks me up in spite of myself, in spite of my works. This is all the more reason I desire to surrender in obedience to Him. What better way to thank the God of Grace? Obedience is not worship if it is an outpouring of ritual or legalism. I’m talking about the obedience shown in the book of Daniel, true obedience as an expression of thanksgiving for the grace I don’t deserve but am given in full. I am excited to continue growing until I am in the place that even in the face of the most trying circumstances I can praise God’s will and say “But if not, I will do what I have been called to do.”
Free furniture from our church family? Praise be to God.
Tight budget for this month? Praise be to God.
Job opportunity on the horizon? Praise be to God.
Homesickness? Praise be to God.
New Christian friends? Praise be to God.
115 degrees? Praise be to God.
Praise is not my first inclination.My human nature so desires control and immediate response. But there is so much praise and thanksgiving due to our Papa God. It’s a growing and stretching process but as I have said before,
Praise be to God.