Friday, October 10, 2014


A couple months ago there were three separate but back-to-back moments of life that I've been wanting to write about ever since they happened. Right now, during this beautiful, cold, but colorful Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, I've found myself thinking about these three times, thinking about how they connect to the nature of Christian thankfulness.

But let me start at the beginning...

It was moving day. The kids were away at a friend's place. Justin and some friends helping us pack the truck had taken the first load of boxes and furniture over to our new house, three kilometers west of our current one. I'd stayed behind and had just swept and mopped the floors for the last time, readying our apartment (of the past five years) for the incoming new tenants. With the final cleaning complete, I glanced at the clock and knew I had no more than a few minutes in this quiet, empty house before the men would return for round two of packing and before the new tenants would arrive to begin painting.

I stepped outside onto our second floor back patio and sat in my familiar spot. Emotion that I'd kept in check all day swelled. This place. This home. What a perfect provision it had been. Five years earlier we'd arrived as a family of three and now we left as a family of five. Children born here, learned to walk here, potty trained here. Lots of life lived between these walls. When we arrived, Justin had been stepping into ministry for the first time. Now, five years later, five years more mature, we looked back and saw God's incredible faithfulness to us, to our family, to our church family.

This home had been a place of grace and joy not just for us, but for those we loved, too. As I sat there in my spot up in the trees--in my bird house, as I used to call it--tears of thanksgiving streamed. In those minutes of a quiet goodbye, I thanked God for His provision to our family. I reflected on the home we were leaving and also on the amazing new one He had provided. I thanked Him and I also told Him that I wanted to use our new space for the good of His people. Still wiping away tears, I prayed with eyes open, looking around at the home I was leaving. God, you provided this space and it was exactly, perfectly, what we needed. And now you've provided a new home and we trust Your hand. Thank you. Thank you for your provision and your goodness. You've given so much more than I deserve. Would you help me to use our new home for good--for the good of my family, for the good of our neighbors, for the good of Your people?

And then I heard a knock on the door. It was time to move on.

The next day, the day after moving day, we were able to keep the U-haul until late in the afternoon so we planned to make use of this rare occurrence of having a big truck at our disposal. Besides, we'd just moved into an old house that needed a fridge, stove, and a few other large and rather essential items. Something though not essential but that we knew our 4-year-old and 6-year-old boys would love was bunk beds. Their previous bedroom had been too small but we'd listened to them dreaming about it more than once. On Craigslist we'd found the perfect dark wood bunk beds for sale. So after Justin picked them up, he and the boys assembled these beautiful new bunk beds.

We knew they'd be excited but Jake's response melted our hearts. When he first looked at them completely assembled, ladder and all, he was utterly overcome. Almost in tears and looking at his Dad, Jake said, Dad, I love them. I LOVE them! They are exactly what I've always wanted. Thank you so much, Daddy. I want to do something for you. What can I do for you? Can I give you all my money to help you pay for them? I have twenty dollars in my Spiderman box and I want to give it to you, Dad. Justin grabbed him in a big hug and told him to keep his money.

Two days later it was a sunny, early August Sunday morning at church...

On that Sunday morning we were taking the Lord's Supper together as a church family. After our pastor broke the bread, read the words of institution, and gave thanks for Christ's body broken for us, the opening organ strains of When I Survey the Wondrous Cross rose and fell as the bread was held in empty hands. With a bowed head I quietly prayed. I confessed my sin. I thanked Christ for His sacrifice. I asked for grace. And I noticed, with something of a jarring sadness, that my gratitude for the crushed body of my forsaken Savior was nowhere close to the gratitude I had felt just three days earlier for the provision of a home nor the gratitude I had witnessed two days earlier in my son.

The sadness lingered.

I thought of what Jesus did for His people. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. And even so, even with this picture, we forget.

So often in this life, the things that stir our hearts most easily are those things we can see, aren't they? It is good and right to give thanks to the Giver for every good gift--for homes, for relationships, for family, for food, for His provisions big and small. These good things are a blessing and they are from His hand.

But they are temporary.
They are fleeting.
They were never meant to be ultimate.

It is those forever provisions, the ones that will never change with age or circumstance, that should stir us to gratitude the most. The temporal blessings of this life, though profoundly good, only point us forward to a day when Christ will make all things new.

And so this Thanksgiving even as I rightly give thanks to God for the provision of a home, I want to be far more passionate and thankful for the eternal dwelling place bought with Christ's blood; and even as I give thanks for the provision of food, I want to weep with thanksgiving for the bread of Life; and even as I give thanks for my husband, I want to rejoice that my marriage to Justin is but a picture of the eternal Bridegroom and His bride.

When I sit at the Lord's Table and thank the Father for the provision of His Son, I want to be more like my son, Jake. I want to be utterly overcome with gratitude. I want my heart to be stirred and my lips to cry out, Father, I love Him. I love your Son! What can I do to show you my love? Would you help me to deny myself and, like your own Son, carry my cross and follow Him.

This thanksgiving, if we've been given much, if we've been given a dwelling place and food to eat and people to love, we ought to thank the One who created and gives these gifts. But so much more than this, we ought to remember that all these temporary things will one day pass away and, in Christ, we've been given Life that never ends.

Even as I write this I'm aware that, for some, this falls flat because you're not struggling to see past the good things to the unseen things. For some, it almost seems as though God has freely given to others while He's passed you by. But here's the unseen truth: in Christ, we've been given everything. Everything! God is faithful and will never let us go. We trust that He will provide for us because He already has. He who did not spare His Son, will he not provide for us?

When I remember Christ in communion, and when I remember the Provider this Thanksgiving, I want to be more like my son Jake when he looked at his bunk beds for the first time. I don't want to just pray the right things and feel tepid thanks. I want to look to the Cross, behold the provision of the Son, and be utterly overcome with gratitude.

And like my little guy, I want to be moved to give Him whatever I've got.