Monday, January 9, 2012

366 Days of Gratefulness ~ Days 7 & 8

I made the commitment to myself and to the Lord that I would be more intentional about focusing on the things in my life I have to be grateful for because I was stuck in this pattern of "woe is me".  I was spending a lot of time wallowing in my sorrows just like a pig in mud, and then I'd carry all of that muck around with me.  It was affecting me greatly.  Making me short fused, depressed and weepy.  I had to do something.  So when I ran across the idea on Pinterest of keeping a journal of things to be grateful for, I thought it was a great idea.  I could write those things down and be able to go back and read over them to remind myself of all blessings I've been given.

But let's face it, some days it's much easier to see those blessings than others.  It seems like all the hurtful things are always surrounded by blinking neon lights commanding my attention.  I get so blinded by the bright lights I can't see anything else.  And so starts the wallowing again.

Saturday was a good day.  We just spent the day at home just hanging out.  We were looking forward to spending the evening with dear friends that were in from out of town.  I was excited I was feeling well enough to go, but just as I was headed to get my shower, the phone rang.

Cue the blinking neon lights.

I had expected that one day I would get this phone call, but when it actually happened it knocked the breath out of me.  I just got sick all over and was furious at the same time.  I almost called our friends to tell them we weren't going to be able to make it.  My excitement about our fun evening we had planned had become over shadowed by news that put me on the verge of despair.  It would have been so much easier to have stayed home and just sat on the couch and cried, but I didn't want to let our friends down.  So I decided we would go, and maybe, just maybe, it would get my mind off of things for awhile.

I am going to confess that almost immediately after getting that phone call I got really angry with the Lord.  I started questioning why He hadn't intervened and kept this from happening.  I've prayed so hard for these circumstances to change, but they just keep getting worse.  I asked Him if He was just ignoring me or was I not making my request clear to Him.  I threw a big temper tantrum because I wasn't getting my way.

Then later that evening, as I sat in a room that was filled with friends that I love and who love me, I heard the Holy Spirit speak very clearly to my heart.  That phone call didn't take Him by surprise.  I had expected that one day it would come, but He knew it would.  Not only was He not surprised, but He knew the exact moment my phone would ring.  So as I sat there in a big circle visiting with friends, the chatter and giggles of kids in the background, I was reminded of His sovereignty.  He knew the moment my phone would ring, and by His sovereign grace, it came just before I would be spending an evening surrounded by friends.

I could have just sat there and wept, but as my eyes started to well up with tears, a conversation started about a pig roast one of the guys had done a few years ago.

I had been like a pig wallowing in the mud, and the conversation turns toward a pig roast at the moment the Holy Spirit is speaking to my heart.  The Lord certainly has such a sense of humor, doesn't He?

Day 7 ~  I am grateful for the Lord's grace and mercy.  I am grateful He gave me the grace to get through that evening ... and for the grace He's given me in the hours and days that have followed.  I am grateful for the mercy He gave me when I threw my temper tantrum and acted like I was entitled to answers.  I am grateful for His forgiveness for my actions.  I am so undeserving, yet He is so gracious and merciful.

I am also grateful that even though it seemed as if the evening was going to be a total bust, I was still able to spend it with dear friends.  It was so good for my heart.

Day 8 ~  I am grateful that I was able to go to church.  It was the first Sunday I have been able to go this year, and I was so, so glad to be there.  I needed it so much.  I need to hear the Word, and I need the fellowship.  I do so much better when I am able to go.

And here is another example of God's grace and mercy ...

Caleb had planned to preach a totally different sermon than what he preached yesterday, but the Lord changed his mind ... or I suppose you could say He changed His heart.

So his sermon was based on Philippians 3:2-11 and what it means to know Jesus.

I have three full pages of notes, but I'm just going to summarize what I took away from His sermon ...

"Christianity is knowing and being known by God."

"To know Christ is to know His benefits."

The benefits of Christ are justification, sanctification and glorification.

God does not declare us righteous because of anything we have done.  It's only because of what He has done.  To know Christ we have to throw away any other reliance we have and trust only in Him.

Sanctification is making us more like Christ.  To really know Him is to know His suffering because that was His life.  Suffering is a gift because it is through our suffering we are being refined.  Suffering and sanctification will always go together.

As we suffer, we are glorified.

First comes the Cross, then comes the Crown.

I must say, that sermon was exactly what I needed to hear.

I have realized that over the past couple of days I have something to be grateful for that far out shines any blinking neon sign.  I am a child of the King.  There is nothing that can ever change that.  I'm going to have suffering in my life, but in the midst of that suffering I still have much to be grateful for.  Being refined is painful, however, it's allowing me to really know Christ.

There isn't any neon sign that can out shine or any blessing that will ever trump knowing Christ and being a child the of King.

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