Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20
I had not been there in a very long time nor lived there even longer. The dry dusty desert landscape stretched out before me for miles. Swirling mini dust clouds twisted and danced across the sand in front of me. Waves of nostalgia flooded over me. This was my home. The place of my upbringing. It was familiar and unfamiliar all at the same time. I had been gone for almost 4 decades. I had left the desert of Arizona to attend college in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and never permanently returned.
It is so easy to take for granted the things that God has given us. Like many other 19 year olds, I couldn't wait to leave home. To be on my own. To get out from under the shadow of my parents and siblings. As I spent time this week at home, I reconnected with a former high school classmate. We caught up on 30 years in a span of an hour and a half over lunch. Both of us left home to go to college, but she had returned to Tucson about 10 years ago even buying her parents old house. She shared how she spent a lifetime trying to get away from her mother's house, only to be currently living in it. She caught me up on the people we knew during our teen years and I was reminded of the good friends God had place in my path during those important years of my life and I was grateful. As I shared my journey with her of how God had moved me from Tucson to Arkansas, to Texas, back to Arkansas and now to Florida, I saw the thread of His blessing once again upon my life. As I recounted to her the friends I made in college and how they encouraged me to return to JBU for my sophomore year where I met my husband, tears filed my eyes and my voiced cracked. The faces and names of all those who had touched my life passed before me and I was filled with gratitude.
Gratitude for a God who knew me. A God who knew me well enough to move me from my hometown in order to call me into a deeper relationship with Him. Gratitude for a God who took us to Texas for seminary and godly friends and mentors. Gratitude for a God who knew my family needed to live in Little Rock, so that our youngest son could be born where there was a Baptist hospital with a NICU that specialized in sleep apnea. Sparing us medical bills that would have bankrupted us, and saving our son's life. Gratitude for a God who knew my oldest son needed to attend college in Florida so he could meet his wife and be called to ministry. Gratitude for a God who knows the road ahead of me and promises to go before me and prepare the way for me and then walks beside me as I follow Him.
Paul writes in Ephesians 5:20 that we are to be "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Gratitude is not always easy because our circumstances are not always easy. In the midst of the hard dry desert places of life it is difficult to be grateful, but we are called to be grateful to God. Grateful to God, not to the circumstances. Grateful to him because he knows. He knows the poor choices we have made. He knows the injustices we have experienced. He knows the pain of loss. He knows us and he loves us and he sticks with us. As I have looked back over my life this week, I am grateful for everything.
Lord, thank you for your constant love and provision. The thread of your love, protection, and guidance can be seen when we look for it. You promise you will found when we search for you will all our hearts. Help us to seek you. Thank you for making yourself real to me in my life. Amen.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.