It feels like forever since I sat down to just write a blog post. I don’t know what’s going on with the rest of the world but in my little corner I’ve been quite busy preparing for a shift. What kind of shift? I wish I knew. All I know is that the Lord has been prompting me for months that a shift is on my horizon. But today is the day before Thanksgiving, and the kick off of the American holiday season.
Tomorrow will be the first time in six years I have been able to spend time with my family on Thanksgiving. I’ve gotten used to being separated from family and old friends that it almost seems like that was another life and not mine. That might not make sense to anyone else. I’ll explain. I’ve been in a weird kind of season, a long season which is wrapping up much in the same way that the holidays wrap up the calendar year. It feels similar to the years that the apostle Paul spent in Arabia and Damascus. Nobody really knows what went on there. We know from scripture that a day came when he ended up in Tarsus where Barnabas found him and brought him to Antioch. (Gal. 1 & Acts 11) There was a fourteen year period between Paul’s visits to Jerusalem. I wonder what it was like for him to return to such a familiar place after so long.
It’s interesting to me that about fourteen years ago I left my former life behind to follow the calling of the Lord. I had been involved in ministry. I was raising my family and working a full time job. Then in 2004 the Lord called me to a very different life. I left that job and stepped down from ministry. I did not leave my family, at least not until my children were adults. God has had me on a very particular path. It has been a path of preparation, for what exactly, only God knows. But I know that I am in a place of transition like many in the body of Christ. Sometimes it feels like our transition is in transition and if one more prophet tells us we are crossing over I’m going to scream! Nevertheless the body of Christ is in change.
When the apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem after a span of fourteen years it was to share with the Jerusalem apostles the revelation he had been preaching. While he was away the Lord had been doing a work in Paul and giving him insights and revelation on the Torah (Old Testament Law of Moses).
But back to my personal story. I know what it is like to leave a place and not know when you might see the familiar streets again. I know what it feels like to hang up the phone after speaking to your parents and not know if you will see their face again before they die. I know the ache to want to wrap your arms around your children but have to settle for letters and Facebook. I know how it feels to watch a close friend close their eyes for the last time. What’s my point? It isn’t to be morbid. It’s to say that I know what many people go through this time of year. While others are gathering around tables full of food and surrounded by family there are those of us who are eating alone in our room streaming the latest episode of the The Crown. This isn’t an appeal to invite strangers into your home or volunteer at a soup kitchen.
It’s a time to look at life and express our gratitude to God for bringing us this far. It’s a time to reflect and know that whatever the situation or circumstance if you can read this post it means you are alive. You have a life. What you do with that life is not determined by how many people sit around your table or how many side dishes are enough. This isn’t about lawn decorations or what great deals we can get if we get up at 4am and push our way through the crowds on Friday.
This is a time to assess the fact that we have life. No matter what this past year or even the past ten years have been like good or bad, easy or difficult you are alive today. Each of us have life within us. That life is a gift from God. What we do with that life is up to us.
On the occasion of Thanksgiving we look back on the past year and acknowledge that it was God who carried us through every situation and circumstance to bring us to this day.
The Jews say a blessing called the Shehecheyanu. It means Who has given us life. It’s a simple prayer expressed on special occasions. The blessing thanks God for granting us life and for bringing us to this present moment.
Whether you are with family, friends, strangers or alone, know that God is with you. He has sustained you through this past year and brought you to this moment in time. Your life has purpose. Your life has meaning. God is watching over your life. Take a moment today to give Him thanks for the breath in your lungs and the blood that courses through your veins. You are among the company of the living. Take a deep breath and breath the air of life and know that this life is a gift from God.
May the Lord bless you this holiday season.