In my last post I talked about changing my wasteland into a landfill. To transform a wasteland, which by definition is devoid of anything humanizing, into a landfill, you need fill. I wanted clean fill, edifying fill. The fill I used was thanksgiving. Ann Voskamp wrote a book called 1000 Gifts that was released in January 2011. In it was the treasure that got me through the wasteland. Ann said, “to live life fully one has to give thanks for everything. Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives.” (p. 39) Thanksgiving prepares the way for “fullest salvation that leads us away from the bitter, angry and resentful lives and all the sins that would estrange us from Him.” (p. 40) This was revolutionary to me. I had to learn how to do this, but I was in good company. Paul said, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have…I have learned the secret of living in every situation… (Philippians 4:11-12) So I spent 2011 learning and it felt like what my daughter told me she experienced when she was in boot camp as a Naval recruit—-grueling! I went home exhausted and completely spent every single day. Where was the easy yoke? Where was the light burden?
I didn’t get it yet, but I kept reporting for duty every day for that whole year. I was keeping a gratitude list, taking pictures of things I was thankful for, and doing the best I could to do good work in the midst of diminishing resources. On January 5, 2012, I wrote about how unnatural thanksgiving is on a good day, but when things are going poorly, thanksgiving is just barely on the radar. I wrote in my blog how unacceptable this was to remind myself why. (https://dschondog.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/thanksgiving-is-not-natural-in-the-best-of-times/) Christ, Himself in the midst of a particularly suffocating wasteland, taught us to be thankful in ALL things. On the night He was betrayed broke the bread and gave thanks! I wasn’t on my way to be crucified, but things were suffocatingly oppressive when I wrote that. I didn’t know that the very next day someone would be holding a pillow to my face to snuff out my very last breath.
The next day I was fired from my job. I was working in a wasteland, but it was my wasteland. I knew every inch of it and I had learned to exist in it. I could completely relate to the slaves from Egypt when the water and food ran out in the wilderness and they began to beg Moses to go back to Egypt. In Egypt they knew who their oppressors were. At the hospital, I knew who mine were, too. Of course I did, I worked with and for them every day. But January 6 was my last day. It was the day my wasteland turned into NO land. I was in the wilderness and it felt worse than the wasteland.
It has been 5 months since my escape from Egypt and I have learned to give thanks. Thanksgiving is clean fill. When I give thanks it affirms that I believe that whatever happens in this life is for my good. (Romans 8:28) It is easier to be obedient when you believe that. In the past 5 months He has proven to me He is trustworthy and that everything is under His control. He has also shown me there is power in praise. That power is transforming ME from bitter, angry and resentful to calm, peace-full and resource-full. I will write more about that for Wednesday when I walk with Ann and we share our spiritual practices. For now, I’d like to thank Him for
#662 His patience while I learn.
#663 a life mate who supports interminably.
#665 friends who stick closer than I ever imagined possible.
#666 cyber-relationships beyond what I could ask or think.
#667 for beauty in nature.
#668 physical senses, thought processes and spiritual insights.
#670 the great cloud of witnesses.
#671 treasure: in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7) and in mysteries hidden for the ages but now revealed in Christ (Col. 1:26).