Hey peeps – the kids are off school this week for Thanksgiving, so I’m taking some time off with them! Both posts this week are throwbacks to an earlier Thanksgiving. Now I know that Thanksgiving as a holiday is a distinctly American celebration. Yet thanksgiving as a principle is significant for us wherever we are in the world, 365 days of the year.Thanksgiving isn’t a feeling, its a choice. Nor does it pretend that life is perfect; the Bible calls to be thankful in all circumstances, not for them (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In fact, I’d contend that its when life is tough, that we need to draw on thanksgiving the most. A thankful heart can transform our perspective on life, work and relationships. It helps us reflect on our journey so far, and can give us hope in the present and faith for the future. What are you thankful for this week?
Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it “Ebenezer” (Rock of Help), saying, “This marks the place where God helped us.”
1 Samuel 7:12 MSG
A few years ago,we gathered in the desert at night with some dear friends. These were relationships forged through years of shared experiences and adventure, years of laughter and life. Now, quite unexpectedly, our lives would go in new directions, onto new adventures. Before we said goodbye, we met in the desert to worship and we built our own Ebenezer. We gave thanks for our children, our marriages, our friendships, for the breakthroughs we’d seen, for His provision and protection. For His overarching love, His unrelenting grace, His steadfast faithfulness. With every thanksgiving, a rock was added to the pile. I’m sure our monument looked unimpressive in the morning. But that evening it was a mountain of praise that soared from the depths of our valleys, and pierced the darkness of night.
I love the fact that we give a day to being thankful, to reflect over smiles and laughter, parades and food and fun. I’m thankful for good times with newer friends who’ve become family. I’m grateful for a day to be grateful, because I’m reminded again that the path of my life is littered with rocks, signposted with monuments, countless reasons to be thankful.
There are some seasons in life when its easy to build an Ebenezer. The answered prayers, the dreams that come true, the life that works beyond the way you’d hoped it would. The sun is perpetually shining on your life. In those seasons, I’ve learned to note the landmarks of God’s faithfulness that line my way. Instead of rushing by, I’ve learned, am still learning to not take them for granted. But to stop and look, even stare. Then place a rock or two on my Ebenezer.
Because I know that there are seasons when the sun isn’t shining. Its just a grey day. Boredom and distractions sedate my passion, dilute my focus, and I drift… Then there are the seasons that are a long dark desperate night. I can just about think, I can definitely feel, but I cannot see.
In those seasons I’ve learned to feel the Rock beneath my feet. I’m reminded that my life rests on One more solid than my wandering mind and divided heart. In the dark, when all I can do I feel my way around, I feel the familiar contours of a Rock that has always been, has never moved, is here and will never leave. There I rest. Or lean. Or cling.
So here at my kitchen table I’ve started counting my blessings tonight. I’ll continue tomorrow, naming them one by one, building an Ebenezer. And when the official day is done, I’ll keep going as a discipline. I’ll keep counting my blessings until that discipline becomes a habit. Until that habit becomes my rhythm. Because that rhythm sets the pace of my heart and my life.
For He has been my Help. And day or night, I will always have a reason to be thankful.