Obligated Thanksgiving

Obligation – something by which a person is bound or obliged to do certain things, and which arises out of a sense of duty or results from custom, law, etc.(dictionary.com).
I remember the scene from the Disney movie Jungle 2 Jungle where the American boy is raised by his doctor mother amongst tribal people. His American father takes him to New York City and the boy, dressed in his loin cloth, head dress and carrying a poison dart gun traverses New York City during the day as his father works. He is fascinated by the Statue of Liberty and begs his father to take him to it. The day comes for the big trip to the Statue of Liberty and the father says he cannot take him because he must work. He says, “I am obligated.” The boy asked his father, “What is obligated?” The father explains that it is when you have to do something you don’t want to do. The boy nods and says, “Baboon [that is what he calls his father] obligated.” He seems to understand this situation and accepts it until later in the movie when he overhears his father telling someone that the time he is spending with his son is an obligation.
I am studying my Bible. The subject is being a better Christian. The first principle in the study is love. I Corinthians 13:1-3 says

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

This chapter of the Bible never fails to bother me. I am not a warm, fuzzy, hugging person. I like distance and, many many times I do things because they are expected and something I think the other wants or deserves. I do not, necessarily, want to do them. A lot of what I do is done because I believe it must be done and there is no one else to do it. The weariness with which I do it ruins the effort as I grumble through. Others get the message that this is a burden for me and not something I really want to do. The exhaustion shouts, “When will this be over?” I really wish I could be energized by activities of giving, but frankly, they just wear me out. Am I sowing nothing because it does not come wholeheartedly? Would doing something out of a sense of obligation have been better left undone? I guess I don’t think so because I keep doing what I feel obligated to do.

I wonder if love has to be felt. If one does loving things without feeling loving, does that not count? It seems to me that loving action in the absence of loving feelings is superior. Luke says if we love those who love us, we are no better than unbelievers. It is when we love those who would be our enemies that we are loving as He called us to love. I have to read between the lines here to get the idea that there is no feeling for the enemies, but maybe some of you really do feel love for your enemies. Romans 13:10 says, “Love worketh no ill to its neighbor.” In Dan Allender’s book Bold Love he says loving is doing what is best for your neighbor, doing what will bring them to their best self. Hmmmm. As a nurse, sometimes I have to make people feel worse before they can become better…loving may not always be pleasant, but it should always be for their good.

Hebrews 13:16

16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

“Sacrifices” is the operational word here. Good deeds (loving actions) are sacrifices. They entail putting yourself aside for another. Putting self on the shelf is not a comfortable thing nor is it our first inclination. Sacrifice entails renunciation of our immediate pleasure, but Jesus assures us that if we die to ourselves daily and pick up our cross and follow Him, we’ll have the fullest life possible (John !0:10). My mind is spinning. It’s time for a word from Ann Voskamp on love:

There are no standing lovers: the only way to love is to lay down.
Lay down plans.
Lay down agendas.
Lay down self.
Love is always the laying down.
This is how to make love out of a marriage: Love lays down it’s own wants to lift up the will of another.
Love lets go of its plans — to hold on to a person.
This is the passion of Christ.
There is no mention of feelings toward the other person, just the necessity to hold on to another, to make sure they are given the best chances to be their very best. Still thinking about all this with you. I am thankful today
#1316 that the comment section is the best part of my blog. [The best is yet to be written.]
#1317 for my fall Bible Study group with my Bible buddies. I get to think again with thought-provoking women!
#1318 that my grandchildren are all in school.
#1319 that my husband married our veterinarian to a wonderful young man. Congrats to Joshua and Dr. AmyIMG_0766
#1320 that many pediatricians that I have worked with over the years are coming back into my life.
#1321 for our new family doctor. He is fabulous.
#1322 I have a job I love and am beginning to train others.
#1323 for the core program I discovered about 6 months ago. It is really making me strong and easing my leg pain.
#1324 for contentment in sacrifice.
#1325 that my sister is having good days with her husband who is very ill. His birthday is tomorrow.
#1326 Jesus reigns and Syria is a blip on the screen.
#1327 The Word of God speaks through the ages.
#1328 for rain at night so I can ride my bike in the day.
#1329 for the talents of others.
#1330 for the energy of youth.
#1331 for the wisdom of elders.
#1332 for the fellowship of believers everywhere I go.
#1333 for a dog that presses near me through the night.
#1334 that the floors got scrubbed, the carpets got shampooed, the tomatoes got scalded and the birthday cards got made and mailed. [obligations done!]
#1335 that my husband gave younger daughter a plan for keyboarding success.
#1336 for the success of Christian Light School of Haiti where the 3-year-old twins I sponsor, Emmanuel and Emmanuella, are being fed and nurtured so they can start kindergarten in 2 years.
#1337 for an older daughter’s honor to her mother by being obedient to a request that was asked of her.
#1338 for Handel’s Messiah. I play it all year long and it lifts me to heaven [and helped me finish the tomatoes this evening] Hallelujah!
#1339 that God is with me in all circumstances.

4 comments on “Obligated Thanksgiving

  1. Well, dear sister in Christ, you have give me just the prod I needed to overcome my blogging inertia and get going again! For these issues are some with which I have struggled long and hard. But I don’t want to publish the first post (already written! yay!) until I get at least two more in the mini-series completed. Or I’ll just leave my readers dangling.
    Not to leave you dangling, but there’s just too much to say in a teensy comment box about this big, BIG issue. Thank you so much for bringing it up with such passion and transparency. (I’ll publish posts as quickly as “life” will permit me… (and isn’t that a huge part of the problem??)

  2. I think I will also try Handel’s Messiah while I do all my apples~ such a joyous plan~
    I love the names Emmamuel and Emmanuella!
    A very blessed Birthday to your brother in law
    I am glad for better days with your legs
    In so many ways you are like my Eduardo… Obligation ~ I still believe that though it is not easy, still your hearts mean it to be love and God translates all the fleshy difficulties into glory!
    God sees through to the heart core even deeper than we can imagine.
    Blessings to you dear sister~ beloved one~ you are ever precious

    • How DO you remain so thoroughly positive? I know you will say, “Because of Jesus” and I know He is worth giving all our negatives to, but somehow it seems easier for some. I think it’s that old temperament business. We must let the Holy Spirit convict us of what we need an d know He has the answer. Thanks for your precious encouragement, Susan. You are heaven on earth to many.

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