Monday, January 26, 2015

Give Thanks = Content

Our pastor has being doing a wonderful series called Change of Heart, examining the conditions of the heart - the hungry heart, lonely heart, prideful heart...
Yesterday he talked about the suffering heart.
There was something about the morning that was different.
There was a thick presence in the air.
Perhaps it was my new fun haircut!  Or perhaps it was the Holy Spirit.
As the music played I found myself fighting back tears - not totally uncommon for me! 
 But this felt different, like a wave was about to crash over me and no matter how fast I tried to turn and run, I would not escape the enveloping water.
"Blessed be your name,
in the land that is plentiful,
where streams of abundance flow,
Blessed be your name."
We began to sing what has already become an "oldie but a goodie,"
and I could hear the roar of that wave getting closer to me.
"Blessed be your name,
when I'm found in the desert place,
though I walk through the wilderness,
Blessed be your name."
"Every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say,
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Blessed be your name."
After reading Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts, I've learned to apply this truth in my own life,
whether blessing or darkness, give thanks and bless the Lord.  It truly is one of the great keys to being content (my word for 2015).  Cultivating a grateful heart also grows a content heart.
And as the refrain approached, so did that tidal wave.
"You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be your name."
Not just teary eyes, but the "oh my word, I'm about to shake and perhaps snort with weeping," realization hit me as fast and hard as a crashing wave and there I was, cute new haircut and all, using every dry finger to wipe my eyes as tears fell more quickly than I could catch.  I knew my running mascara had now radically transformed my look!
And in a moment I was right back in that car in front of my doctor's office, almost 4 years and a month ago to the day, tears falling like rain with the realization that the hopes of our 4th baby were gone.  Where there once was a heart beat, there now was none.
As I wept in my car with the news, I racked my brain, trying to find answers and questioning what I had done to make this happen.
I heard God speak the words of this song, truly the words of His own in scripture,
 "I am the giver of life and I give and take away, blessed be My name."
I found great comfort in those words.
I also found a great challenge in them.
Can I bless God when He takes away?
Will my heart choose to give thanks and bless the Lord in my loss?
I was caught totally off-guard at church yesterday as I sobbed.
Just when you think you've moved past a loss, the grief hits you at very
unexpected times, even 4 years later.
But as I cried and sang those words, I found a strength rising up within me as I declared,
"My heart will choose to say, blessed be the name of the Lord."
Yes, I will be content in all things because I am choosing to give thanks and bless the Lord in the good and in the bad.
God's love crashed over me yesterday and I'm so grateful that I could not out-run that wave.
Messy cry and all.
He reminded me that true contentment comes when I choose to have a heart of gratitude
and bless Him at all times.
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

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