And so it begins. Actually, it’s already begun. Indeed, it’s been going on for weeks. The ‘it’ is Christmas and, sadly, today’s ‘Black Friday’ shopping extravaganza seems to be the highlight of the season for millions. Of course it’s wonderful to give gifts and smart to save money. But how many people put as much of their time and energy into preparing for the mystery of Jesus’ birth as they do buying stuff? That’s a tough question. In fact, it may be a tough question for you. If so, you have the opportunity to experience more than Black Friday. Not so much by stopping what you’re already doing. But by making a commitment right now to start getting your heart, mind and life ready to celebrate the miracle that is Christmas – how God became fully human to share the fullness of God’s real love in real life with real people.
It’s Thanksgiving and I’ve got to admit how easy it is to overlook it in the rush to Christmas, give thanks for unimportant things or utter insincere words.
So today I am thankful – deeply thankful – for loving family and friends, new beginnings, the gift of ministry, food, shelter, medical care, safety and life.
But there’s also something else resonating deep within my soul today. So much so, I’ve just got to give thanks that gets to the heart of all that ultimately matters – You.
Doing this expresses who I really am, even when I’m not my best me. Enables me to love You more fully, even when my love falls short. Changes how I live, even when I do it imperfectly.
It also enables me to experience something so awesome words are completely inadequate to describe it. The way You use my inadequate attempts to thank You as opportunities to transform me from the inside-out until I’m left with nothing to do but thank You with everything I’ve got.
So, Lord, thank You for the gift and gifts of life, for Your amazing love, and for abundant life in You that begins now … and lasts forever.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which means you are in full-blown preparation mode as you get ready for an influx of guests or pack to hurry out of town. But how do you prepare to give thanks? After all, that can be extremely difficult when you’ve just received a diagnosis of cancer, 200,000 children in Arkansas go to bed hungry every night, you’re struggling to find money to make your house payment, the world is constantly embroiled in violence or someone close has betrayed you. You get ready to give thanks by taking the time to get in touch with all the things for which you can give thanks – because they’re all around you. It may be hard, painful and even the very last thing you feel like doing today. But, then, maybe that’s exactly why you need to do it.
The world’s problems are endless – terrorism, poverty, pandemics, domestic violence, racism, and hunger. And no one seems to be able to fix them. Not governments, foundations, education, businesses or religion. Yet God is audacious enough to say to you, “You can make a difference.” And, believe it or not, you can. You can speak a word of love in the face of hate, sanity in the midst of insanity and hope in times of absolute despair. You can mentor a child, spend time with a homebound senior or help fight childhood hunger. You can pray with someone and share how God has made a difference in your life. This is not just some nice-sounding faith cliché about how things might be one day. It’s something you can actually do today. Indeed, it’s something you actually need to do today. Because if you don’t, who will?
There’s someone you know who’s going through a difficult time. While you want to do something, you don’t want to do the wrong thing. So what are your options? You could come up with all kinds of good reasons for doing nothing; pray for that person and let God handle it; or simply do something because doing something always seems better than doing nothing. But there’s a far better option. Get serious about asking God to help you figure out that thing you can do right now that no one else can do. Of course, this means you’re going to have to be willing to make an investment of your heart, soul and mind. But it’s an investment that will pay off because it can change someone’s life. Indeed, perhaps even yours. Which should be no surprise since that’s always what seems to happen when you love God and your neighbor with everything you’ve got.