While driving down the Esplanade yesterday, I found myself thanking God that I get to live in this city. The colors of the red, yellow, orange and brown leaves contrasting against the blue sky was stunning, the temperature was comfortable, and though there were people on bikes, folks walking and cars on the road – it didn’t seem like there was the same rushed feeling that seems to go along with Christmas or the beginning of school.
November feels like it was created for self-reflection.
The more time I take to evaluate what I’m thinking and feeling about things, the more room I create to enter into a thanksgiving mindset. While I generally find it easy to find the silver lining in every cloud and hope for a better tomorrow, seasons like this one make it even easier to be grateful.
Yesterday our Chico Christian School kids had their Thanksgiving feasts. I’m sure school kids all over the nation made tall black paper hats, ate mashed potatoes and gravy, avoided the yams and made lists of what they are thankful for.
I am contemplating sitting down and making a list of what I am thankful for this year, but prior to doing that I am praying and telling God how I am feeling and then telling one other person about it. As I broaden the circle of thanksgiving, others enter in and begin to praise God for His goodness and His power. Psalm 100 tells us to enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.
The gateway to God’s presence is recognizing who He is, and what He has done. If you want to bring God’s presence into any situation, begin to thank Him for the provision He has made and meditate on what a good Father God is.
As we truly enter into thanksgiving, we will receive the byproduct of joy in our lives. It may not be a giddy joy, but it will certainly be a strengthening, trust building sort of confidence that will arise.
Practicing communion is one way that we enter into thanksgiving. It’s a time to reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus who paid for our sins once and for all on the cross. It is often called, “The Eucharist” in high church circles. The Greek work “Eucharisto” has the root word “chara” in it. Chara in Greek is “Joy.” Charis in Greek is “grace.” When I think about this word, about being thankful, and even the act of taking the elements of communion, I first think of the grace of Jesus in dying for me. The byproduct of praising Him for that sacrifice is joy in my life. I begin to remember that I am His son, not His employee. I recall that God has a plan for my life and is shaping me daily into the image of His Son, Jesus. I also remember that I am not alone in this life, but constantly loved, supported and encouraged by Jesus. This all serves to strengthen my identity in Christ and gives me courage to embrace the adventures ahead.
Thanks Lord for this season, may we step into everything you have for us in these days.