Thursday, November 24, 2016
Download MP3 (right click to save)
Maybe it was the dumb voices I did. But the kids used to love it when I read "Winnie the Pooh" to them. Tigger with his irrepressible "hoo-hoo!" bouncing everywhere. And Eeyore with his head down and his ever-present gloom. I'd rather be Tigger than Eeyore maybe without the bouncing. I mean, I want to be the one to leave sunshine in the room, not storm clouds.
That's not so easy. There's plenty to make us Eeyores: overheated schedules, grumpy folks, medical battles, family tension, too little sleep, long delays, aggravating pain, and aggravating people who are a pain. And then there's the antidote – thanksgiving. Well, actually, giving thanks. That may be the difference between being the joy-bringer or the joy-killer.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Tigger, Eeyore, and Thanksgiving."
The "inventors" of our Thanksgiving exemplify that difference. According to H. U. Westermayer, "The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than those who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."
There's Thanksgiving the holiday. Then there's thanks-living, the lifestyle. It's the difference between the dirty window and the blessing glasses. Yep! See, when I look out a dirty window, the whole world looks yucky. Even the really good stuff is dimmed by all the caked-on dirt that's coloring my view.
If you've decided your role in life is "victim," it's going to be hard for you to see much that's positive through that window: abused, neglected, abandoned, misunderstood, passed over, or wounded – that's real hurt. But to let those who hurt you define you? That's a self-imposed sentence of despair; denying the many good things because they don't fit the victim narrative – living as a prisoner of your past.
Unthankfulness, for whatever reason, breeds some ugly offspring. In Romans 1, God describes how humans end up doing unthinkably depraved things and where that downward slide starts. "They wouldn't worship Him as God or even give Him thanks...their minds became dark and confused" (Romans 1:21 NLT). Okay, here it is. Unthankful heart – dark mind, bitterness, resentment, depression, anger, rebellion against God. They come from an ungrateful heart.
Yes, you can choose to go through life looking out your dirty window, seeing all that's wrong. Or, you can choose to put on your blessing glasses that enable you to live, not in denial of the bad stuff but celebrating the goodness of God all around you if you have eyes to see it.
Henry Ward Beecher, said, "The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as a magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!" And those blessings are always there: the ever-changing masterpiece of the Ultimate Artist all over the sky, the yard, the horizon, the smile of a friend, the laughter of that child, the roof over your head, the food in the fridge, the song of that bird, the car that runs, the job you have, that person who cares. We call them "God-sightings."
Actually, thanks-living isn't just an option for a follower of Jesus. It's a command. "Always be joyful." How am I going to do that, for heaven's sake? Well, in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18, where it says, "Always be joyful." It also says, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Jesus."
When you look at life through blessing glasses, all kinds of good things blossom: joy that's from what's happening in your spirit, not your situation, peace that banishes anxiety, faith that sees a God who's bigger than whatever is bigger than you are.
Thanksgiving's a great time to become intentional about collecting blessings, not burdens. Living "with gratitude in your hearts to God" the Bible says. To "Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:16-17).
For me, that thanks begins, not at a turkey-filled table, but at an old rugged cross where I once again allow myself to be leveled by the love of my Jesus who took my hell so I can spend forever in His heaven.
Thanksgiving and thanks-living begin with the love that will never let me go.