A single thanks for a Single Life (in which I consider Thanksgiving and redemption)

I suspect that God’s view of such things as injustice, hatred, war, murder, dishonesty, lying, greed, pride, bitterness, anger, gossip, selfishness, abuse, stealing, and vengeance are not of a single kind or degree.

I believe that his reactions to the vast range of shortcomings and sins of humanity cover an equally vast range of disgust, wrath, disappointment, grief, sorrow, regret, and mourning.

Certainly this week there has been plenty for Him to mourn, plenty for Him to decry, plenty for Him to denounce, and plenty for Him to reject. On all sides.

I know for certain that each and every one of us, if we dig deep enough, has done things, said things, and thought things that do not reflect the image of God in even the smallest degree or measure.

And yet, against all odds and in spite of all our manifold undeservedness, He loves humanity and ushers in redemption for all who would claim it. And though His views and reactions to our individual and communal sins may be broad, the cost to forgive them is the same: a Single Life, sacrificed willingly and completely, bearing the weight of an entire world’s less-than-image-of-God-ness.

It seems as though there are a thousand reasons to not be grateful today, a thousand reasons to question humanity’s soul, a thousand reasons to selfishly ask where God is in the midst of sorrow and pain, and a thousand reasons to begrudge others, whether for their fortunes or their foolishness.

But those thousands upon thousands upon thousands of reasons crumble away into less than dust when held up against this single reason to give thanks: we are beloved by God Almightyoffered new life – real life, embraced with the powerfully just and gentle arms of Abba, Father. 

And oh, sweet Jesus, how much we need Your love and life and grace.

For this one thing – this single, immeasurable, infinite, boundless, incomprehensible (and entirely undeserved) gift, we give thanks. Thanks upon thanks upon thanks.

Now thank we all our God…

Being read while reading (leaves, snow, scripture, grace)

November leaves (Photo: Kirgiss)
November leaves (Photo: Kirgiss)

Side by side is where I found these two November leaves late last night, prone on the pavement, fully dead, yet clinging to something – anything – resembling life, the one by reflecting brilliant colors (as brilliant as night light allows) and the other by bedding down the new-fallen snow, giving it a place to last, to live, to remain for just a few minutes more.

They are the flip side of life and death, one holding out for its own last few breaths, the other holding up another’s first few breaths.

They are poignantly beautiful. They are powerfully sublime. Yes – those two tiny dead leaves made me feel small (a smallness that is divinely reassuring) in the way only nature can. They read my heart and they whispered the words written there: “You are loved, whether exposed to the bitter cold air, whether feebly attempting to cling to one last breath, whether bravely trying to help another hold on just a little longer, whether lying all alone on an endless pavement, whether clinging to another for comfort and companionship and hope, whether looking ahead with hope or looking around with caution, whether courageous or afraid. You are truly loved, by the God who created all that is.”

Sometimes nature does that – reads our souls and reflects the words back to us, reminding us of what is true.

And sometimes nature – being born of the hand of God – gets it right, which is a lovely, moving, and sacred event. But other times nature – being viewed through the eyes of a weak and broken being – gets it wrong. Not intentionally, of course. But wrong, nonetheless.

Being read by nature often makes my spirit leap with something resembling joy.

Being read by the Creator of nature makes my spirit soar – with joy, remorse, adoration, hope, contrition, love.

Trust in the LORD (are you trusting in someone else? in something else?)
with all your heart (how much of your heart is Mine – deeply and truly Mine?).
Don’t depend on your own understanding (the way that you so often do).
Seek his will (not yours, not someone else’s – just Mine)
in all you do (all things, all the time…all…it’s a powerfully big word, ‘all’ is)
and he will show you (are you looking? are you listening? are you watching?)
which path to take (because gracious, child, I know how many paths beckon.)

Being read by truth aches. Soothes. Exposes. Reveals. Comforts. Corrects. Breaks me apart into tiny, jagged pieces. Stitches me back together with loving grace and joy.

Read the true words of God and be filled with them.

Be read by the true words of God and be enlivened by them.

Be still and know that He is God.