Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"In Everything, Lord, May I Give Thanks"

"Be encouraged--God is in control.
You will look back one day and see
how it all fit together for your own good. (I Thess. 5:18)
I love you,

These sweet words are what awaited me inside of my car one morning last summer. That particular time in my life, I was struggling with fear/anxiety about an unknown future. My precious dad knew of this discouragement and never failed to remind me that he was praying for me and that he loved me.

Looking back on that difficult but beautiful time in my life, I see the handiwork of my Maker. For my heart was "scared to death" of an unknown future, possibly a future of being alone. And since that time, God has answered, provided, and guided my very steps. Today even marks a special day of that answered prayer. For during that time, I was praying for the one whom I would spend my life with. Five months ago today, he was brought into my life. The time spent in the waiting was all in God's plan. Oh, how my Father perfectly orchestrated my every step and answered my prayers far greater than I could have imagined. All praise to Him.

Tonight, almost a year ago to the day, God ordained that I would receive the same encouragement. What a God!

I recently graduated in May. With this awaited graduation, the hopes of a job were on the forefront. I was eager, willing, ready to serve others through my career. And here I am, June 30, without a job. It seems almost as if these past few weeks of job-searching have been a roller coaster. I've sought God, pleading for His direction and the opening of doors. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I would cry out to God...almost as if I felt that I deserved a job. "But, God, I am seeking you and honoring you with my life. I've surrendered to do whatever You lead me to do. I've pledged my life to You. Why aren't You answering me?"

I have a specific place in my room where I have special prayer times with the Lord. Many times, I have found myself in this place kneeling, praising, weeping before my God. And tonight...I found myself there. And as I kneeled there, these lyrics poured out of my stereo speakers:

"Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know His power
In quietness and trust

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father You are king over the flood
I will be still and know You are God"

Oh, how I long to know His quietness and in perfect trust. To truly be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) As I was crying out to God, I looked up. And from where I was kneeling, the top shelf of one of my bookcases was in plain view. There I saw my diploma. But what caught my eye was not the diploma, but what was sitting right next to it. For what was right next to the diploma was a small plaque. And on it read: "In Everything Give Thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:18" I then finished the verse out loud:

"In everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

"Thank you, Lord." I prayed. For I was reminded that the verse did not simply say: Give thanks. It said: "In everything give thanks..." Not give thanks when things are going well, or give thanks when things are going as planned, or even give thanks when a job is everything we are to be thankful. But even more than that, we can be thankful because God is in this. We can be thankful, because this is His perfect will for our lives. Psalm 18:30 reminds us:

"As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield
for all who take refuge in him."

What a precious and beautiful source of encouragement I was given tonight. A year ago by my earthly father, this time by my Heavenly Father.

I received a sweet reminder last Sunday. We as believers do not love God just because of what He can give to us or what blessing we can receive. We love God, because He first loved us and gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sinfulness. (1 John 4:10) What a timely reminder this was to me. For I serve God Almighty, not because of what He can give me, not because of the blessings that come from His hand, not because of life that I want....I serve Him, because I love Him. He is my All. He is my Rock. He is the foundation that I desire to build my life upon.

I desired to be very honest with you tonight and share from the depths of my heart. Tonight, I have come from a heart of imperfection, made perfect by God Almighty. I have come from a heart tainted with discouragement, encouraged by the Great Comforter. I have come from a heart threatened by anxiety and fear, made to rest by the Great Calmer. And tonight, I have no more answers about the future than I did this morning, but I rest under the shadow of the Almighty. I choose to be still in His presence and trust that His will is perfect.

Where are you at tonight, sweet one of God? What area in your life are seeking direction from the Lord? May you rest tonight the mighty and perfect will of your Lord Jesus. May you truly be able to give every circumstance. He has a plan. He knew your very steps, even before the day that you took your first breath. He has your tomorrow's planned and nothing is a surprise to Him. May you surrender tonight. Let's do it together. May we surrender tonight...surrender our hopes, dreams, desires, plans....surrender them with thanksgiving into the hands of Almighty God. I'd like to pray for both you and I. Praying that this night leaves you filled with hope and a perfect peace.

Father God,

I praise You tonight for your faithfulness. I praise You tonight, for You are good. All Your ways are good. Every circumstance, every situation, every moment, even as difficult as some may be, are meant for our good. I pray tonight that we can truly rejoice and be thankful. Thank You, Father, for leading us in very specific ways, opening and closing doors in Your perfect timing. I thank You, Father, for the protection that You grant us through closed doors. And even when periods of silence and uncertainty are all around us, I thank You that You remain in control. You are with us...even in the waiting. I pray for the ones who will read this tonight. I pray that You will fill their hearts with hope. I pray that they may truly trust in You and rest in Your peace. May they know tonight that they are loved. May they truly serve You, not for the blessings to be received, but out of deep love for You. May I do the same, Lord. For my sole purpose here on this earth is to bring honor and glory to You. Thank You for Your love, Father. Surround us tonight...that we may find rest in You.

In Jesus' Name, Amen.

A Psalm of Thanksgiving:

"Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation."
Psalm 100

Praying for you tonight, dear one of God. Rejoice and give thanks. For our Father, He is good. Amen?

Hannah Grace