What does it take for you to be thankful? What does it take for you to be full of thanks?
Yesterday I read my teammate Kathy's post about what "thankful" really means. It was great timing, as most people in my country head into a month leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. Today Kristi focuses on the one leperous man out of 10 who returned to thank Jesus for his healing in Luke 17. Their insights are shaping my thoughts of thanks, but none more than a divine chain of events last week. I left knowing it takes too much to make me thankful.
Monday night I went with group of gals from our church to do a movie night at the women's shelter where we serve. We showed "Letters to God" and had great discussion afterward, along with cider and sweets. (I mentioned it here.) But one lady I was looking for was missing; she had gone to a Bible study. Something else that was absent were pumpkins we brought to brighten the porch. So I planned to go back ... (I'm still thinking this is all just a coincidence at this point ... silly me)
A couple of days later, I went back with the pumpkins. As I was leaving, the missing lady stopped me at the door to ask if there was any way I could find someone at my church who had carseats they don't need. She knew that she could ask, because we've been going to the Shelter ever since she came there; our small group of young couples went to paint there a few weeks ago .. and she remembered. I told her I would work on it.
I went home, sent out an email to my women's ministry list, and had both car seats in 2 hours. When I called her to let her know, she nearly came through the phone with joy. You see, a space had opened up for her to move in to the family ministry floor of the homeless shelter, along with her 2 little boys. Children's Services required that she have 2 car seats before they could be reunited. She tried government service offices and ended up in a tangle of red tape and discouragement. Then God sent me to the house, delivering forgotten pumpkins.
I picked up the seats and went to deliver them with my teenage daughter. When we arrived, the ladies we have come to love were out in the leaf covered yard, all dressed up in costumes, like a scene from a Disney movie. They were taking pictures among the pumpkins, and some of them had their children with them. I had the joy of meeting the two little boys who will be strapped into the 2 seats. I love getting to be the messenger!!!!
Their mom was SO HAPPY she was going to be able to move with them into the family unit at the shelter, to share a room together, to eat in the dining hall, to keep putting their lives back together, to keep on learning what it means to know their Heavenly Father. She was FULL of THANKS.
What does it take to make you thank full? As I thought about her attitude of gratitude, it has something in common with the healed man of Kristi's post today: they had been in the land of little, and they knew what undeserved grace and provision looked like. Maybe it takes so much to make us thank full, because we have too much. We have to willing to spend time in the land of little to learn gratitude.
Paul said, "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Phil. 4:11-13
I think Paul and my friend whose lap is full of two beautiful boys would agree: the sweetest gratitude is known when we've been in the land of little. It would be a dangerous prayer to pray to ask to really know how to be thankful. Some of you have been in the land of little this year, and some of you reading are there right now. I'm praying that we will be able to learn to be truly thank full.