We are thankful here that our dear fur ball has had a reprieve and seems to be doing much better. He's a sweet orange striped old man and has begun purring again with just a slight limp.
The emotional turmoil has taken its toll, however, as is usual with my CI. So today after a sleepless night I have treated myself to a trip to Mitford.
For those of you unfamiliar with Jan Karon's series, they are set in Mitford, North Carolina and patterned after the city of Blowing Rock. The first book in the series is At Home In Mitford. I've had the great pleasure of meeting Ms. Karon several times and going to Blowing Rock - and being charmed by the tiny town nestled on a green, forested mountain top.
The books tell the story of an Episcopal priest and the everyday things that he encounters - and are the first books I've ever read where someone actually consults God when facing troubles or being blessed by joy. He speaks of the Holy Spirit as though He were concerned with the smallest details of our lives - which, of course, He is! Every once in awhile I reread the whole series, I highly recommend them.
Today I have been reading In This Mountain, and one section has really spoken to me, bringing me to the Throne in gratitude.
Father Tim, the main character, has been dealt a hard blow. He needs a sermon for the next day and he is spiritually dry. He has struggled with a depression and pain that cut very deep. He struggles with God, and, finally, as he opens the Word, God speaks to his heart, giving him the crux of his sermon - and this is what He says, using the verse from 2 Thessalonians 5:18 - and I think it most appropriate for us CIs:
"In everything, give thanks. That's all. That's this morning's sermon.
"If you believe, as I do, that Scripture is the inspired Word of God, then we see this not as a random thought or an oddly clever idea of His servant, Paul, but a loving command issued through the great apostle...
"Though we don't do it often enough, it's easy to have a grateful heart for food and shelter, love and hope, health and peace. But what about the hard stuff, the stuff that darkens your world and wounds you to the quick? Just what is this everything business?...
"Everything is the word on which this whole powerful command stands and has its being.
"Please don't misunderstand; the word thanks is crucial. But a deeper spiritual truth, I believe, lies in giving thanks in...everything.
"In loss of all kinds, In illness. In depression. In grief. In failure. And, of course, in health and peace, success and happiness. In everything.
"There'll be times when you wonder how you can possibly thank Him for something that turns your life upside down; certainly there will be such times for me. Let us, then, at times like these, give thanks on faith alone...obedient, trusting, hoping, believing,..
"Some of us have been in trying circumstances these last months, Unsettling. Unremitting. Even, we sometimes think, unbearable. Dear God, we pray, Stop this! Fix that! Bless us - and step on it!
"I admit to you that although I often thank God for my blessings, I haven't thanked Him for my afflictions.
"I know the fifth chapter of Thessalonians pretty well, yet it hadn't occurred to me to actually take Him up on the notion. I've been too busy begging Him to lead me out of the valley and onto the mountaintop...
"Why have I decided to take these four words as a personal commission? Here's the entire eighteenth verse:
"'In everything give thanks...for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you'"
"His will concerning you, His will concerning me...
"Let's look once more at the four words God is saying to us...by looking at what our obedience to them will say to God.
"Our obedience will say, 'Father, I don't know why You're causing, or allowing, this hard thing to happen, but I'm going to give thanks in it because You ask me to. I'm going to trust You to have a purpose for it that I can't know and may never know. Bottom line, You're God --- and that's good enough for me.'"
For a CI, these are words to take to heart. It is never easy to thank Him when the pain hits and seems to stretch each minute until an hours worth of pain seems encapsulated in a few minutes, or when the world is gray and hopeless looking, or the heart breaks with the absence of another. Yet, as Father Tim reminds us, it is a loving command - one that reminds us Who is in charge, and can change the face of our CI if we let it.
It is my prayer that you, gentle reader, will join me in doing just that.