Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In All Things Give Thanks

Family Gathering 1
I can remember as a child my parents trying to remind me that no matter the situation, always find something good in it. Well as a small fry I had trouble getting my head around such a huge concept as that. After all, there were some huge things going on and not many of them seemed worth y of much gratitude. It is a long story that has been told before, so I will not bore you with the details, but only remind you that in each of our memories there may be those moments where we just could not understand. I get glimpses of that even in life as it is today.

It is fun to watch grandchildren growing up and yet there is also the harsh reality that they too must go through the up and downs, the hardships and disappointments that make up life and they will not always understand either what it is that they are learning or the concept of finding a ray of light that will give them a signal that all is going to be OK… they will survive the minors and most of the majors, no matter the pain along the way. But, too often we allow ourselves to major in minors!

Family Gathering 2
This has been Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. For some the traditions lead to a deeper devotion to thankfulness by the sheer knowledge of the harvest season. Families gather and with the bounty of North American Society shared the wealth of foods around tables of plenty.  Laughter and light banter becomes the joy of getting together. For some it is the opportunity to hear about the adventures, plans and escapades of daily life over the past year; it may have been a year since seeing each other. Others gather for the sheer joy of both family and extended family and over a meal, around campfires and the usual afterglow of conversations, as broad as they are diverse… they share both love of life and the everyday experiences of child raising and work’s challenges.

Levon's Birthday as well.
Some of you will know that our son Benjamin had a brain tumor removed a couple of years ago. This spring he got a report back from an MRI (brain scan) that was stated only as being acceptable. That left him and his family hanging.  In the meantime he and his wife found that they were to expect their second child next spring… A wonderful bit of news for grandparents… but it became an overload of extra concern for Ben. Not wanting to hear bad news, he waited out the time till his next test and was now been given the news that there has been no regrowth (a great sign) and that is excellent. It was originally diagnosed as a low grade cancer and we know that just the word cancer alone can add fear and anxiety to a life… It was such a joy to see a real smile over the weekend. For this I am truly thankful… both the smile and the news warmed my heart.

Yet, into every life come those extra stresses that arise, over which we have no control. For my wife and I it has been the extra use of our car as a truck so I could do some work for family and friends. This weekend as we arrived some hours away from home to visit family over the holidays, we found that our car was making a very different noise. Being a diesel, that can mean a variety of things. With a sinking heart I considered going home to await an answer from our local mechanic. But, as we were already there, our children ferried us around to the various events and we put the car troubles to the back of our minds for the rest of our stay. On arriving home the diagnosis was something more than minor and the car needs some major engine work at a dealership garage an hour and a half away.

It is so easy to let your heart sink and mine did just that. My mind puzzled over the worry of getting to the jobs I have on the go, the time needed to get the car to the dealership, their time to repair it and the transportation back and forth to both deliver and retrieve the car after it has been repaired. I know that this bump in the road is just one of those things that has to be faced, accepted and put behind us, but what of the finding  that small bit of joy for which to give thanks. I am like that little boy who when faced with that which cannot be altered, when disappointment reigns supreme, my joy gets shaken and to a certain degree, trampled on, by some level of sadness and anger which I dare not carry.

I remember well the words of wisdom I would impart to our children years ago. “In 6 months’ time this will all be behind you and forgotten.” Well, perhaps not forgotten, but at least dealt with and filed in that place of “acceptance and get on with life!” It was good to hear those same words quoted to me this morning, as I recounted the news from both the local mechanic and the far away dealership. I need the time to sit and put everything into its proper perspective from time to time and that was what I had to do. The car is but a mechanical fixture that will always need both maintenance and replacement at some point… that is a matter of truth and fact. At some point we either make the decision to trade or repair and in this case, the most expensive repair will still be cheaper than replacement and well maybe the engine and the rest of the car will go another 7 years and 300,000 kilometers. LOL So, what is there to be happy about? Well… it was no accident that caused the turmoil; it was wear and tear, high mileage and the years of use. The driver and passenger are alive, safe and reasonably well, considering the indigestion all this caused. LOL

So I look back to my childhood and the childhood our own children, and I am reminded that there is both meaning and truth in that Biblical directive… “In all things give thanks!”  Walking through life is not always about great adventures, it may oft times be just walking among the challenges that may try to trip us up and shake our faith in what God has for us each day. I am reminded that being able to survive the minors give me more ability to overcome in the majors, because I am not alone. Being alone is what we feel some times, but we are never alone. God is there and when the time is right He shows us His grace, but He also expects us to rely on Him, even when we are busy carrying the burden ourselves. Who else gets us through the fog of our emotions? I know… humanism and philosophy will record a different answer, but I pour out my heart to more than theory… I pour my heart out to He who created and He who sustains. He is my rock and when I get near the edge, like I did this morning, I need that rock so that I can change my perspective from where I am, to what really is… just another bump in the road and in 6 months I will have forgotten my momentary pain and anger.

I pray that today you will find a reason to be thankful and with a thankful heart approach each event, trial and circumstance with the “Rock of Ages” so that after the momentary shock of the disappointments have drained your soul, you will allow to God fill you up again. You need Him to get you through no matter comes your way. May your life be blessed with smooth roads and gentle hills, but if not, may you be blessed with a faith in the God of Love who is always there to get you through… He will add that different perspective…. That I know full well!