Thursday, November 25, 2010

Confession, Grief, and Gratitude

I have a confession to make. I haven’t really been living a thankful life lately. Oh, I’m thankful for all my blessings. I experience real feelings of gratitude towards God for those blessings and for the people in my life who share in them. But my life isn’t really illustrating gratitude right now. I’ve been struggling frequently this past year with new episodes of grief over my son’s death twelve years ago. I’m not saying that grief, the last great expression of love we experience in every relationship, doesn’t have its place and time – God created us to grieve. But at some point, grief must depart so that new life can take its place. This past year, I’ve spent too much time pining for the life I knew, the love I had, and the joy that died with my son and not enough time enjoying this new God-given life, the indescribable, undying love of the Father through Jesus Christ in the company of the Holy Spirit, and the joy, peace, and hope of the Gospel he has revealed to me.

We live in a country where we can read, study, and devour God’s Word without fear of reprisal and yet, too often, I leave this precious resource, my spiritual sustenance, sitting on a table unopened. I tell myself I have too much to do for God’s kingdom to take time for me in God’s Word. On occasion, I stress over a mounting to-do list telling myself, “There’s no time for prayer today.” I utter a few thanksgivings and “God bless everyone I love” and I’m off and running to cross off as many items on the list as I can before exhaustion drags me to bed to tired sometimes to even say, “thank you for the day, God and goodnight.” Then those occasional days increasingly become almost every day.

It’s about this time that the enemy starts plucking at the grief strings of my heart. And why shouldn’t he? I’ve given him free reign to. I’m failing to spiritually eat – immerse myself in God’s Word – and spiritually drink – reaching toward God’s river of love, power, protection, and guidance and the grace of Jesus’ blood and sacrifice – and then I foolishly wonder why I’m so empty. Fortunately, even when I think I’m too busy to work at my relationship with God, he is still with me, working in and through me. He patiently brings me back into his waiting arms.

So what do I do now? Well first, I refuse to be a spiritual anorexic anymore. It’s going to take effort and some small sacrifices on my part, but I will nourish myself with God’s goodness through his Word and in prayer every day. It’s not a choice anymore. Second, I must accept and keep reminding myself that I can’t accomplish this. Only God can transform me in my effort so that one day reading the Bible and praying become to my soul as my heartbeat is to my body. The next thing I need to do is recognize that my resolve will dissipate with time and distraction so I need to find someone, with God’s guidance, who will help me keep accountable. It’s no shame to seek help when help is what you need. Lastly, I want to celebrate the fact that God loves me just as I am and because he loves me, he will not leave me in this less-than-perfect condition. He will continue to shower me with grace and blessing. He will grow my heart for him and deepen our relationship beyond my hope, my desire, and my imagining. Praise God!

About the pictures:
Raccoon State Park (November 2010)

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