It’s Thanksgiving, and for many of us there seems to be more to be worried about than to be thankful for. It can appear that God has taken us at our word, and withdrawn from America.
He hasn’t. We just need to look for Him differently.
There was a time in my own life when I thought He had abandoned me. I was so far past the end of my proverbial rope that I didn’t even have any frayed ends to cling to.
I was attending a retreat, and the retreat master told us that each of us was a beloved child of an eternal Father. I did not believe a word of it. I decided to test God.
Every night for one month, I would not go to sleep until I had found one thing to be grateful for that day. It had to be something specific to that day, not a generic like "good health". The first day it took me almost an hour to find one single thing, and my "thank you" was about as gracious as a child’s forced apology.
But I kept at it and by the end of the week, I had two things to be thankful for each day. As the days west by, my list grew.
At the end of the month, I was driving back from the other side of the state. I hit the PA Turnpike at about 9:00 PM, and expected…
to be home at about 1:30 AM. As I approached the first rest stop, I noticed that the oil light was on in the car. It took 5 quarts. I decided never to tell my husband, and continued driving.
As I neared the next rest stop, the oil light went back on. I stopped again, and again it took 5 quarts. I thought I must have missed the oil pan the first time. But this time, I was sure I had done it right, so I got back on the road. About 90 minutes later, as I was coming to a rest stop, the oil light went back on. This time I made the attendant come out and help me. He got down under the car, and watched as I poured the first quart.
He told me that the oil was coming out the bottom as I was pouring it in the top. He said the car was dead, and I should have someone come and get me. Since I was driving the family car, and it was now past midnight, a ride was not an option. Neither was a hotel, since this rest stop had a gas station, a fast food restaurant, and a mountain.
I decided that a car can only die once, and I would get as far as I could. So I bought 5 quarts of diesel oil, poured some in, and kept going. The car died completely about a mile from my home. I drifted it into a gas station, and walked. I got in at about 4:00 AM. My husband mentioned that he hadn’t heard the car, and I told him that I hadn’t brought it.
So how was I beloved? The oil light went on right before I hit rest stops – every time. I had enough cash to buy all the oil I needed, and even a bit extra for a soda. The gas station where it finally died completely was owned by my mechanic. It was the only night that week that had no rain. And it is actually safe to walk alone at night in my hometown.
At first I was amazed at how much God had changed. Then I remembered that God never changes. Those daily blessing had been there all along – I had just never noticed them before. The exercise had not changed a single circumstance of my life. Instead, it made me see those circumstances differently.
Being beloved doesn’t mean we will get no challenges. It means that He is right beside us when those challenges occur. And THAT is something to be thankful for.