I know what you’re thinking: Welp, it’s about that time again - time to list what I’m thankful for at the big family meal.
Well, you’re right, but we shouldn’t reserve ourselves to one season to give our thanks to God: we should acknowledge his grace and thank him every day.
When giving thanks we seem to forget that many of our blessings are in disguise. They are more than nice in-laws or a job promotion or the material items we have been blessed with. They are our hardships, our brokenness, our insecurities. As humans, we don’t like to recognize our idiosyncrasies that seem to have negative effects on our lives.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Just being thankful for our joys is only half of what God had given us. God has given us more than obvious gifts. He uses all our experiences to shape us, to mold our consciousness into what he wants. We often forget to thank him for these blessings in disguise.
I think one of my biggest is living where I do. I go to a school where nobody has been exposed to real life. Katy, Texas is really a big, safe bubble for most kids, which is why parents love to raise their children here – they won’t have to grow up faster than they should. For a long time I was a participant in that utopia.
Through my parents’ work (one a dispatcher and another a music therapist turned music teacher) I have met many amazing people who had to face the reality of the world. Through their experiences and stories I have seen the growth that a person can attain. Their experiences taught me about life. Before I was even in kindergarten I knew what the real world was like. It’s not a bad thing - it just put everything into perspective.
For the greater part of grade school I covered up my difference from others by masking myself with humor - I’d joke about everything. But after seventh grade I realized that my difference was a blessing that kept me grounded and down to earth. It kept me out of trouble numerous times because I already knew what the outcome would be. Knowing that life wasn’t a fairy tale made me the person I am today. I always thought that this was a burden for a child, but now I thank God for this knowledge that has guided my decision making throughout my life.
Even though times are tough, God still uses those times to strengthen you, to make something out of them, to bring you closer to him. Trust in him and give thanks. He will never let you down.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the life you have given me. Even though many see hardships as obstacles, I know you use them for my benefit. I know that through them I will get closer to you. Thank you for your blessings in disguise. Amen.
Written by Benjamin
Has someone ever told you that they "found Jesus" or "became one with the spirit"?
Now unless they lost their copy of Jesus: The Movie, these people are most likely talking about their strongest personal experiences with the Holy Spirit. A God moment, if you will.
The other day I was thinking of a friend of mine who recently was shipped out to Missouri for Army basics. I’ve sent him a couple of letters and just got a reply to one of the questions I asked: What’s your least favorite part of basics? He wrote back that it was the screaming wake up call his officers gave him every morning, jolting him out of his dreams of food and family.
It occurred to me that this is the definition of a “God Moment” in a nutshell – a pivotal experience in one’s life, whether it is jolting like a sergeant yelling at you or the warm realization that the sun is in your face telling you to wake up and praise the Lord.
The most heavily alluded experience of this kind is the story of the prodigal son found in the book of Luke. After forcing his father to give him his inheritance early, the son wastes the money and is reduced to feeding the swine of a rude farmer. At this point the son asks himself: “How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death?” (Luke 15:17) This is the realization that he should have been grateful for all of the care his father had given him, and he asks his father for forgiveness.
In our lives most of us don’t really realize that God cares for us with all of his grace until some sort of drastic event takes place; however, there are those of us who feel we have had God moments that have just one day taken effect without the dramatic catalyst. These types of moments are no less valid than the others. They can be as simple as someone taking an interest in you and inviting you to church or deciding to take your beliefs seriously.
Personally, my God moment was pretty mundane. One day while taking a shower I noticed a small centipede crawling up the wall, frantically scrambling away from an ocean of water coming down on her head. In that moment I was humbled. If that bug could survive an OCEAN dropped on her head by trusting that she wouldn't die...why shouldn't I trust God's path for me?
Whatever type of experience, they all have the same base effect on you. They make you realize the truth –
that you have been trying to pilot your own life instead of letting God take control;
that you have just been following what you thought were rules without knowing that they are already there;
that all of your idiosyncrasies are what make you acceptable in the eyes of the Lord.
He wants to make us all whole, and these moments are what bring our shattered pieces together into one.
Prayer: Lord, help me find my way. Bring me to realize that you are in control no matter what and I should trust you with my whole being. I give myself up to you and praise you for giving me the chance to realize that you are the one. Amen.
Written by Benjamin
The 12:12 Project is sponsored by Katy First United Methodist Church.