Wednesday, November 26, 2008

happy gratitude day

I'm on a quest today to cross off as many items from my "to do" list as possible. So while I get on that, here's one from a few years back ...

If you ask any woman this morning what the happiest noise on earth is, she'll tell you it's the sound of the oven door shutting just after she put put the turkey in. I never fail to sigh at that sound, which signals that "I did it."

This year, I almost didn't. My first attempt at enclosing that 24-pound bird in my Reynolds Oven Bag sent us both dancing across the kitchen floor. He didn't want to go in. Still slippery, and heavier than I was ready for, he tried his hardest to elude my grip. But I prevailed. I managed to clutch all 24-pounds while simultaneously opening the edge of the bag with one wing tip and a fervant prayer. Got him inside, adjusted him awkwardly over the four, fat onion slices I'd previously arranged on the bottom of the bag, and started oiling him up. But just after the last of the olive oil had been spread and rubbed, I pushed just a bit too hard and ripped the bottom edge of the bag. I stood for a good minute, gawking and trying to grasp the situation. I could hope the turkey juices didn't rise as high as that rip. I could pretend I hadn't noticed and just hope for the best. Or I could start over with the second Reynolds bag. It was the thought of all that potentially wasted juice that made me reach for the Reynolds box and unfold the second bag.

We danced again, that turkey and I--only this time, he was oily.

So maybe you understand now why I say that the sound of a shutting oven door is the happiest sound ever. You slump, and sigh, and wipe your brow. And before you tackle the kitchen, and wipe up all the stuffing residue--the errant bits of onion and celery and sausage and bread crumbs--you allow yourself a cup of coffee. And maybe you blog for a bit.

I'll get to the kitchen. But first, I want to say, "Happy Thanksgiving." I hope you spend this day in the presence of people who love and appreciate you, and people you thoroughly enjoy. And I hope you take a moment to realize that there's nothing good in your life that wasn't given to you. James 1:16, 17 says this: Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. That's an awesome truth. I realized just what that meant one Wednesday night this summer.

I was sitting in a holy place--one of two that I know of. Both happen to be benches. And both are holy, in my estimation, because every time I sit on one of them, I hear something from God. One of them is Dave's prayer bench (which I borrow periodically), centered in a cleared spot in the woods behind our house. The second--which is where I happened to find myself on that Wednesday night--is the bench in front of our church office.

I was sitting out there about an hour before our midweek service was to begin, and I was reading a book by Chuck Smith. He was talking about blessing, and how we sometimes errantly believe that if we just act a certain way or do a lot of God-pleasing activity, God will have to bless us. I was nodding and agreeing with Pastor Chuck, and right when my eye landed again on the word "blessing," three things happened simultaneously. The wind picked up and brushed my cheek with a warm caress; I heard the neighbor's wind chimes begin to tinkle; and the sun broke free of a lone white cloud and blanketed the lawn directly in front of my vision, lighting the grass in a brilliant, emerald path that extended from the fence straight to my bench. And I suddenly saw the truth James tried to convey. I understood in that warm, tinkly, green moment that God was blessing me, then and there. I understood that He did that all day, every day. I realized that every time I breathe deeply in delight, or return a smile, or taste a just-ripe nectarine, or gasp at the sunset, or receive love, God is the One who sent the blessing.

Scripture says that the rain falls on both the just and the unjust. The opposite is true, too. The sun shines on both those who love God and those who don't. It's stunning to me to realize that God's heart is so big and His love is so vast, that He pours blessings out even on those He knows will never turn to Him. He sends sunshine and music and good food and loving relationships and happy dreams even to those who will never turn and say, "Thank You."

Today, when you hear the sounds of music or laughter (or a shutting oven door) remember the One who sent the sound. When you taste that turkey (or tofu :) and you ask for seconds of the green bean casserole ... and potatoes ... and pie ... remember the One who provided. When you look at faces across the table who are dear to you, remember Who planted you in those lives. Take a moment to remember ... and offer thanks to God--the passionate, lavish Lover of your soul.


2 Comment:

At 11/27/2008 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

Shannon, thanks so much for saying it all. Debbie :) Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family...

At 11/30/2008 8:49 PM, Blogger Dorci Harris had this to say ...

I thought of you, Shannon, as I shut the door on my turkey, smiled and went, "aaahhhhh." :o)


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