Posts Tagged ‘Thankfulness’

Today our local paper ran an article about the opening of homeless shelters now that temperatures are dropping close to the freezing mark in the evenings.  One man interviewed stated he was thankful for the shelter where he could come in out of the cold and find something to eat. Homelessness is something I know exists but have never experienced, by the grace of God.

Last night my bible study ladies discussed a lesson on being thankful.  Without exception each lady stated they were thankful for a home that was warm and dry. To my knowledge not one of us has ever had to shelter under a piece of cardboard or shiver through the night on a frost covered park bench.

Two years ago a co-worker got involved in the homeless shelter her church opened and she told me a story I will never forget. She was helping deliver food to a community that had formed along the river in our area and was shocked to find a young couple and their two small children living there.  Their story was heartbreaking.  Both parents had lost their jobs and consequently their home. They were fairly new to the area, had no family or other resources to help them out and ended up where they never dreamed they would ever be – sleeping along a river bank with two little boys.

How many of you picture dirty, scraggly haired men when you think of homelessness? I do.  At least I did before that incident. God brought the message of judgment and compassion home to me in a big way that day. Homelessness is seldom a choice. It is the result of tragic circumstances.  Admittedly sometimes those tragic circumstances are brought about by bad choices people make. But not always!

My heart broke the day I heard the story of this little family. I was privileged to be a very small part of rescuing them from their situation. I don’t know where they are now but I’ve never lost my compassion for homelessness or my sincere gratefulness for a roof over my head, a warm place to come home to at the end of the day, and a soft bed to lie in at night.

Homelessness is like so many other issues we bump up against as we travel through our day.  Poverty, crime, abuse, pain and suffering are out there. We hear a story and for a moment our hearts are moved.  The problem is we tend toward apathy because we aren’t directly affected.  And I’m afraid that’s what Revelation refers to when it speaks of the church of Sardis.  Sometimes called the “dead church” they seemed to have little passion for the needs outside their doors.

I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty and I’m not trying to push anyone into jumping in and offering up your basement.  But I do want us to keep homelessness on our hearts and in our prayers every day, especially as the temperatures drop and the snow begins to fall.  Here are some ways I think will help us do that.

  • Wake up praising God for a good night’s sleep in a warm bed. Don’t take it for granted.
  • When you see someone on a street corner, push that first thought out of your head and respond with an immediate prayer for people in need. Ask God to help you be descerning in your decision to give or not.
  • Get involved in some way with your local shelters – give food, clothing, blankets or time.
  • Carry items in your car that you could offer to a person in need like gloves, hats, scarves.
  • If you can possibly do it, call your local shelter and volunteer to spend a night serving a meal and making those that come in comfortable.
  • Always, always share the love of Jesus with the lost and lonely.
  • And when you walk into your house at the end of the day, before you yell at the kids for the mess or complain about another meal to prepare or lament over the power bill, thank God for all of it.

Finally, if you have trouble finding a heart for the homeless, remember that spiritually you were one of them once. But it was taken care of by the Christ who cannot look upon a child in distress and keep from weeping. Let’s be more Christlike.

“He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Matthew 8:17

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I love Anne Voskamp’s book titled One Thousand Gifts (http://onethousandgifts.com)  because it beautifully reminds us not to take for granted the small things of life that give us golden moments and carry us through every hour of every day.  She speaks of things like rainbows reflected in soap bubbles and a child’s unexpected laughter, things that happen quickly and are just as quickly missed if we aren’t careful.

God calls us to a life of continual thankfulness.  Yet the world throws so many negatives our way it is difficult to stay in the grateful ring.  We are so busy we never pause to see the minute by minute abundance of God’s goodness.  Or we are so programmed to look for big things we bypass small things.

Giving thanks for small things is really telling God we are satisfied.  We aren’t asking for more. We are accepting that each tiny gladness is more than we deserve and therefore enough. 

I believe God may have given us zucchini as the perfect illustration of this concept.

Hold one single zucchini seed in your hand.  Lift it up to God and declare it to be enough.  Plant the seed and what happens?  Abundance.  A harvest large enough to feed your family with plenty left over to share.  Have you ever known anyone to grow “just enough” zucchini?  It’s impossible.  Zucchini produces more product from a single seed than any other vegetable I know.

I still remember the first time my mom planted a garden when I was about ten years old.  She put in a few tomato bushes, a few radishes, a few carrots and a row of zucchini not realizing a row of zucchini could feed the world.

She harvested and harvested and harvested zucchini.  She cooked it, baked with it, and froze it.  She gave it away to our friends and relatives until they refused to take any more.  She found an old wheelbarrow, filled it and parked it at the end of the driveway with a sign that said “Help Yourself”.  People did but the wheelbarrow never emptied.

That row of zucchini was like the never ending pot of porridge.  Every day mom picked it clean and everyday there was more to pick.  It wasn’t until we got our first hard frost that we were finally able to store the wheelbarrow for the winter.

God’s blessings are like the zucchini seed.  If we will take the time to see them and thank him for them, they will multiply until we have to share them with others.  Every time we pick the blessing bush clean, more blessings appear.  That’s how God planned it.  That’s how God likes it.  And that’s why God instructed His children in the way of thankfulness.

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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