Thanksgiving and Grace

a

Okay, so maybe it’s just me, but I had a bit of a harder time than usual with the “thankful” part of Thanksgiving this year.

Granted, I had all the prerequisites in place: family gathering at grandma’s, more food than we could eat, football and an Eagles victory…but still, something seemed lacking. Maybe it was the stress involved in the rush out the door in the morning; maybe it was the long car ride; maybe it was simply that my focus was wrong.

Today, I realized what it really was.

Every year, I get asked if I’m going Black Friday shopping. And every year, Thanksgiving becomes more and more consumer-focused. It’s really just Black Friday Eve. Two years ago, stores opened at midnight. Then they bumped it up to 9 pm. This year stores opened at 6 pm or earlier, and some were open all day.

It’s not just Black Friday shopping, though. On Thanksgiving Day, I received an alarming number of notifications and texts from friends–and I replied to them! I’m not saying we shouldn’t be announcing our thankfulness to those we love, but isn’t it better to enjoy it with family rather than being distracted by other conversations at the same time? Wouldn’t it be worth it to unplug, just for a little while, and enjoy the moment?

Even as I ramble on, though, I realize that it’s not just Thanksgiving. We–meaning society as a whole, myself most definitely included–have a general attitude of self-serving entitlement. We look out for number one, rather than living for an audience of One. We think about ‘what’s in it for me’ rather than looking to serve. We think we deserve a good life rather than recognizing that everything we have is all because of grace.

c

It’s a powerful word. A provocative word. A beautiful word. A scandalous word. A marvelous word. A taken-for-granted word.

I deserve nothing.

“God,” wrote Max Lucado in his book Wild Grace (which I highly recommend), “answers the junk of life with one word: grace.

“We talk like we understand the term. The library gives us a grace period to pay a late fine. The no-good politician falls from grace. Musicians speak of a grace note. We describe an actress as gracious, a dancer as graceful. We use the word for hospitals, baby girls, kings, and pre-meal prayers. We talk like we know what grace means.

“Especially at church. Grace graces the songs we sing and the Bible verses we read. Grace shares the church office with its cousins: forgiveness, faith, and fellowship. Preachers explain it. Hymns proclaim it Bible schools teach it.

“Here’s my hunch: we’ve settled for wimpy grace. It politely occupies a phrase in a hymn, fits nicely on a church sign. Never causes trouble or demands a response. When asked, ‘Do you believe in grace?’ who could say no?

“This book asks a deeper question: Have you been changed by grace? Shaped by grace? Strengthened by grace? Emboldened by grace? Softened by grace? Snatched by the nape of your neck and shaken to your senses by grace? God’s grace has a drenching about it. A wildness about it. A whitewater, riptide, turn-you-upside-downness about it. Grace comes after you. It rewires you. From insecure to God-secure. From regret-riddled to better-because-of-it. From afraid to die to ready to fly. Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off. Once you encounter it, you’ll never be the same.”

Grace–real, wildwater grace–is the kind of grace that demands a response.

So respond.

My mentor, Emily House, has told me multiple times that “Thankfulness is the opposite of entitlement. It is impossible to complain when you’re being thankful.”

So if you’re struggling with selfishness, remember grace. Remember how far you were, how worthless, how sinful, how shameful, how lost, and remember the God who saved you from yourself, who loved you when you rejected him, ignored him, cursed him, denied him, and who never let you go, never gave up on you, and never will.

Grace is a God who stoops.” –Max Lucado

Just a little reminder. I know Thanksgiving is over, meaning its time to deck the halls and all that to get ready for Christmas, but everything I’ve said still applies. So happy holidays, and don’t forget what really counts.

–Bre

Advertisements

Published by

Breanna Joy

Once upon a time, in a far-away land, there was born one chill wintry day a lass who would come to be called Bre. She grew up whiling away the time upon myriad pursuits that would one day shift from pursuits to passions; creative, curious, and mischievous, she loved to read whatever she could manage to get her hands on (in particular novels, those of plot complex, world intriguing, and characters remarkable) — and read she did! She devoured words with so fierce a joy that she grew skillful in wielding such words as her own — story, journal, article, post and poem alike. For other arts, she also nurtured admiration. She loved in her heart the beauteous sound of music and the power it held over emotion and spirit. And she would work with her own hands to sketch and to paint and to correct and to create. One of her deepest passions was the stage, where she would take on a character as if an article of clothing, and live and breathe in another’s skin. In addition, the stories of times past and cultures distant enraptured her fascination, and she dreamed of one day venturing to explore these unknown lands. But these, these were nothing to the true heart of her soul. She found for herself a motley band of what can only be called friends–though some of whom were, truth be told, far more than that to her. They changed her being and resided in her heart. And so she lived, and loved, and dreamt. She dreamt of adventure and beauty and song and story and love and laughter. But far beyond anything else, did she strive with love toward her God. For this was her own great quest, or, if you will, her part in His own great story: to love those in the world, as He had loved her, when she had not loved Him–indeed, when she had turned from Him, hid from Him, rejected Him and ignored Him–He loved her enough to die for her. And so, because of this great love that now burned like a fire inside of her, a blazing beacon, she strove for a life lived in a beautiful harmony to Him who gave her a second chance. As she grew, she became confused, and doubting, and weak, and afraid, and unclean, and she would forget, and go to the world that was pressing at her to give in, in an attempt to satisfy her emptiness, though it would always leave her wanting. But always she would return, and be whole and filled again, made complete and beautiful in her soul. Storms would come and battles would rise; she would be tried and tested in many ways, and even so the story continues, but know ye this–He held her and led her all her days, and in the end, He would bring her to His own happily ever after.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s