Posts Tagged ‘Thankfulness’

I glanced at my watch, fifteen minutes to spare. Super. I whipped off I30 and pulled into the local McDonalds to quiet the gnawing of my stomach on my backbone. The line was long, but I had a margin of fifteen minutes. No problem—

When the cars finally moved enough for me to place my order I was committed. “I’d like a ham and egg McMuffin with no cheese, please.” She repeated the order and I confirmed, “That’s right. No cheese.” I pulled forward and waited. And waited.

The car in front of me must have been ordering food for a multitude. No joke, ten minutes passed. And I waited some more. When the car pulled away, the McDonald’s lady handed me my sack and a giant coke.

“No cheese, right?”

She smiled and nodded.

My fifteen-minute margin had been gobbled as I pulled back onto the freeway. I unwrapped my McMuffin, anticipating the deliciousness, but noticing the wrappings seemed thinner than usual—there was no egg!

Just a slice of ham and warm muffin slathered in melted, yellow, gooey stuff. So ooey-gooey I couldn’t separate the ingredients from each other.
Now any other time, I would have looped around the restaurant, gone back through the drive-through, and demanded they fix the problem. But I was already headed west on I30, and running late. I took a bite or too, but the greasy processed yuck impersonating cheese coated the roof of my mouth. I stuffed the remains of a breakfast-gone-bad back in the bag and pouted. Gonna be a long time ‘til lunch.

No Cheese photo

With every spin of the tires I grumbled about the kitchen staff’s inability to fill a simple order. What’s so hard about leaving off a piece-a-cheese?

And God let me grumble for a mile or so—until He pointed to the comparison between the cheesy sins I served Him each day. with my lack of regard or remorse for not giving Him what He asks.

“But these are incompetent people,” I argued. “… not paying attention or caring what they’re doing.” Silence filled the car and the space in my mind.

“…not paying attention or caring…” circulated in my mind while I recalled my harsh words to my husband the evening before when he hadn’t done something I thought should be done. And the Lord punched the play button on the tape of my incompetent and rebellious moments where He specifically asked me to discard distasteful habits in my life. Habits I had drug home and allowed them to take up residence—worse yet, habits—no let’s call them what they are—sins I paid no attention to as they grew new roots, attaching and renewing themselves to my heart and mind like weeds.

No Cheese photo 1

I won’t even bother to record my list. I’m sure you have your own.

Sins, like melty cheese on my deformed McMuffin, that stick to hearts and minds. Sins we all are either too lazy, too unobservant, or too ignorant or rebellious to scrape off and throw in the trash. But we need to identify and own up to our sins, seek God’s forgiveness and healing, through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Paul tells us in Colossians 3:8-11 we are to put aside:

“anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created Him—a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”

But Paul doesn’t leave us standing naked and exposed. In Chapter 3:12 of Colossians he tells us what to put on.

“So as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

It’s impossible for me to be thankful when I’m gripping. And as if to test what I learned last Saturday, when I pulled through another McDonalds yesterday, one where they never mix up my order, guess what? Yep, I got everything, including cheese. So what was I supposed to do—suck it up and eat it anyway? Oh no. We are to instruct, rebuke, and teach—in a kind manner. I looped around the building and asked them to give me the order I requested—a McMuffin with no cheese.

No Cheese photo 2

And likewise, God requires you and I to take another loop around His Word, so He can instruct, rebuke, and teach us to put to death the unrighteous, cheesy sins that separate us from fellowship with Him and each other.

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:16-17 NAS).

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I’m on record, here and now—I despise painting baseboards, doors, and frames—especially with oil base paint. Whoever invented the open concept home is a genius. Problem is, my home is not.

After fifteen years, the time arrived that I had to paint the woodwork in my home. The wooden moldings looked okay; but, if you gave careful attention, they displayed a variety of wall-paint-splatters that speckled and chronicled the history of the family’s color palette.

I thought I’d take it slow. One room at a time, stretched over the winter and spring. I could do that.

The newly painted woodwork in the grand-girls’ room looked fabulous when I finished the task. The doors looked fresh and the window sills looked new.

I painted the frame of the bedroom door around and into the hallway and patted myself on the back for a job well done.  I cleaned the brush and would have put the paint in storage; but, a quick glance from the entry hall into the bedroom horrified me.

The blisters, bumps and bruises on the unpainted trim and doors screamed, “Look at me. I’m grimy and grungy.” One small job of remodeling a bedroom exploded into a major project that needed to be done—before our Christmas party.

I groaned at the thought of painting all the woodwork in the house—before  the middle of December. But there would be no escape. The wood trim and moldings I had grown accustomed to, now that I had eyes to see were disgustingly filthy. Alongside the freshly painted ones they cried for new party attire also.

So I pulled the ladder into the entry hall, gathered the brushes and paint to begin the arduous task of scrubbing, sanding, and steps necessary to prep the doors, frames, and baseboards for a new coat of paint.

The Spirit used that moment to convict my heart,  “You’re just like those baseboards.”

“What?” I attempted to pushed the still, small voice aside.

“You hang out with friends who are just like you. They share your beliefs, like what you like, dress like you dress, and talk like you talk. Next to them you look pretty good too. But when placed next to the only true plumb line—Jesus righteousness and His glory, how do you look? On the inside where it matters for eternity? Your life is grimy and grungy with blisters of sin, bumps of anger, and bruises that need to be healed before they fester and contract the sin of unforgiveness—just like those old baseboards.”

I put the painting aside and bowed before God. Overwhelmed by my neglect of looking to the desperate need my heart and soul required. I confessed my sin of being more concerned with external appearances rather than guarding my heart. I thanked my Father for His persistence to maintain this temple with the redeeming blood of His Perfect Lamb. Thankful for His diligence to watch over me. Thankful for the patience He extended to teach me the principles and precepts I must learn to complete the journey through this foreign land. A land where sin’s particles stick and cling like dirt and grime on baseboards.

Are there areas of your life in great need of scrubbing, sanding, and refinishing? The Father stands ready to remodel and transform your heart and soul into the image of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. And He will maintain that construction site ‘til Jesus comes.

“He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility” (Proverbs 15:31-33 NAS).

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Tall and lanky, Roberto joined our Vacation Bible School at an inner-city park in Houston, Texas. This sixth grader’s enormous dark chocolate eyes spilled-over with a sadness that made him appear older than his twelve years. But Roberto was the first to arrive each day for VBS.

Now summertime in Texas arrives the day after Easter, so by the time school was out and Bible School began the temps were scorching by 10 AM. Add humidity to the equation and it was a recipe for wring-and-droop. What I would have given for a clean towel to wipe the sweat that dripped from every pore.

The week progressed and I learned this young man was a budding artist. He had five brothers and sisters and their family lived in an apartment complex and shared a bathroom with two other families. Paper, paint and brushes were not on this family’s shopping list.

The last day of Bible School we had a picnic for the children complete with food, games, and gifts. Roberto’s gift was paper, paints, brushes, and socks—three pair of athletic socks. Those sad brown eyes turned to sparkles and he exclaimed “thank you” over and over again. Would any of our children be exuberant over a small sack of inexpensive gifts like those? Probably not. Hugs were shared and we boarded the bus back to our church in the suburbs.

I arrived home hot and grimy. The first thing on the agenda? A bath. Filling the tub to the top I slid into the refreshing water and Roberto’s family—sharing a bathroom with more than fifteen people—flashed through my mind. Face to face with his reality had made an indelible mark on my heart.

A tornado ripped across town the week before and many of those folks were displaced from their homes—no personal soak time for them either—and no clean, dry, towels.

I pulled a fluffy towel from the rack, inhaled the scent of my favorite fabric softener, and was ashamed of my ingratitude. Like those lepers Jesus healed who forgot to say thank you, I had never even thought to say thank you for my bathroom, the water, or the clean, dry, towels.

Surrounded by a mountain of provisions from my Lord God I had failed to thank Him for running water, a pantry filled with food, plates to eat on, a car to drive, grass to run through, flowers to enjoy, family, friends—the list of blessings goes on and on. For goodness sake! A washing machine to do the laundry. And I don’t thank Him. The majority of people all over this earth lack these conveniences. God has blessed my family beyond measure and I haven’t even thought to thank Him. How about you?

I learned from Roberto never to complain when I must wait for anyone to vacate a bathroom. And I’m now grateful to fold a load of laundry—anytime—‘specially those clean, dry, towels.

            “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations.” KJV Psalm 100:4-5

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