It’s almost Thanksgiving. A special day we set apart for thanking God for all our blessings. Today we’re going to talk about what it means to be content, and how giving thanks in absolutely everything brings true peace in our hearts. But first a horse story!
Ever heard the old adage, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”?
So imagine this. Back in the days before Cadillacs and Kias, people had to walk everywhere they went.
Unless, of course, they had a horse.
If they had a horse they didn’t have to walk. They could ride bareback. Or maybe, if they were blessed, they had saddles that made it a little easier on their behinds. Or maybe, if they were truly, truly blessed they had a wagon that the horse could pull and they could all ride on adjustable, hand-stitched leather seats with lumbar support, fifteen massage settings, and built-in heaters.
Whoa! Nellie! I’m mixing my metaphors! Let’s back up.
Let’s say the wagon had straw-stuffed cushions, at least, and a canopy over top to keep the sun off the fair-faced ladies.
Whatever the scenario, having a horse beat walking, that was for sure.
So, there was a woman who didn’t have her own horse. She had to ride her husband’s horse, and it was a huge, wide, workhorse that pulled RVs and stuff. The woman wanted a cute little filly that she could saddle up quickly and park up close in the Walmart parking lot.
The woman and her husband worked together for months in a magical forest near a beautiful lake, saving for a nice little horse. Not a racehorse or a thoroughbred, but a better horse than the woman had ever had.
When it came time to buy the horse, something unexpected happened and the savings had to be used to pay for other things. The woman was very disappointed. She really wanted a horse, and now it didn’t seem possible that she would get one.
Okay. Enough about horses. You get the point.
We needed a car. We had a big Dodge dually to pull our RV with, but it was not fun for me to drive (or park!), and since we were settling in the Southwest for the winter, we needed a nice little run-around car. All summer we had looked at cars as we drove up and down the mountain from the Lake Tahoe area where we were work camping (great fun!—and a wonderful way to see the country) to Reno where we went once a week for supplies and a movie.
We had scoured Craigslist and all the local dealerships. It was exciting. But when the time came, the money was gone, and I was kind of blaming my husband.
My husband is a wonderful, kind-hearted man, and he felt terrible about the situation, so he volunteered to sell his “boy toys” so he could buy me a car.
Only the items that he was going to sell were going to be difficult to unload quickly and probably wouldn’t bring what he had paid for them.
One night, shortly after we got home, I prayed this prayer:
“Lord you know how much I’ve been looking forward to getting a car. I want to be able to drive to Phoenix to see my great-granddaughter, or San Diego to see my older grandkids. And, Lord, I don’t want to have to wait months to be able to do that. Please, I’m asking you to give me a good car quickly.”
The way things were looking, it would require a miracle for that to happen because we wanted to pay cash.
We asked a friend to ask his friends who buy “boy toys” if any of them were interested in what we had to offer. Our friend was not hopeful that he could find a buyer quickly, but he put the word out. The next day our friend sent us a picture of a 2010 red Honda Civic. Someone he had contacted wanted to know if we’d be willing to take a car for payment. Wow! That was a fast answer to prayer—but that is not what this story is about.
We made the trade. I should have been happy. I had my horse, uh, my car.
Remember what I said about looking a gift horse in the mouth?
My daughter had never heard of that saying. Kids these days! When people buy a horse, they look in its mouth for . . . uh, I have no idea, but that’s how they decide if it’s a good horse. So, if someone gives you a horse and you look in its mouth, it’s kind of an insult. Well, I was looking that Civic right in the grill. It was a nice car, in good condition, but it wasn’t what I really wanted.
I felt a little cheated because I wasn’t getting the car we had saved for all summer. Actually, I felt a lot cheated.
I wasn’t thankful for the car because I was resentful.
As I was getting into the Honda, a still, small voice spoke to me. You know that still, small voice, don’t you? I think all Christ-followers have heard it. It said, “Your husband didn’t give you this car. I did.”
The Voice stopped me in my tracks.
I was ashamed. God had poured out a blessing on me, and I was complaining about it and blaming my husband. I told the Lord I was sorry and that I knew it was a miracle that I had gotten a good car that quickly. I thanked Him for it. And I’ve been thanking Him for it ever since. I love the car now. I’m happy every time I drive it.
Contentment is not something that comes naturally to me.
Or to you, I would dare say. It doesn’t just happen. Contentment is a mindset. Something we set our mind on before the fact. Contentment should not be contingent upon our circumstances. It’s a decision we make to be satisfied with whatever God sends our way.
Hebrews 13:5 . . . be satisfied with your present circumstances and with what you have; for He, God Himself, has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake you nor let you down, relax My hold on you! Assuredly not! (Amplified)
What a promise we have! No matter what’s going on around us, God has promised, He will not, He will not, He will not, in any degree leave us helpless! He will not relax His hold on us! We should get up every morning thanking God for that alone.
I have a visual in my mind of God sitting on His throne, leaning over and looking down on me. He is aware of everything I face. And He’s got it all under control.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask God for better cars or houses or whatever our hearts desire.
As a matter of fact, He tells us in Matthew 7:7 to ask and keep on asking. He says we have not because we ask not, James 4:2-3. The idea is to be thankful for what we already have and to be content with whatever God chooses to provide. And, of course, that goes for our circumstances, not just physical things.
I Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
This point of this scripture seems to be that it is the will of God for us to give thanks to God in every situation. And that’s true. Completely true. But I think it has a deeper meaning as well.
We can give thanks in our situation because our situation is the will of God in Christ Jesus.
Wherever we are. Whatever’s going on in our lives, it is God’s will for us at that time, and He’s working it for your good. Romans 8:28
Can you take a minute right now to just thank God for everything you see around you? Your refrigerator, your couch, your bed, the food in your cupboards, a stove to cook it on?
Walk around and thank God for the rugs on the floor, the pillows on the couch, even the T.V. Then go out in the garage or to the street and thank Him for your car, for the roof over your head. Not being satisfied is what drives us to work three jobs and buy things on credit that we really can’t afford.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
You all understand how shadows are formed. Something blocks out the sun and casts a shadow. God doesn’t cast shadows. Why? Because He doesn’t change His position towards us. He’s always for us not against us. On our side. He doesn’t change. He’s the Father of light, not darkness; hope, not despair; good, not evil. He wants to bless us with every good and perfect gift because He loves us.
This Thanksgiving season let’s remember to be thankful. Every little thing we have comes from God.
Rebecca is going to share a great idea about how you can make your Thanksgiving celebration special.
I always have these grand visions for the holidays: family members coming to visit my very large home resembling a French chateau—each sleeping in their own bedroom. Beds covered with the best of down comforters and fluffy pillows, a piece of wrapped chocolate in the shape of a fall leaf on each pillow.
In the grand dining area, a long table is adorned with Pinterest worthy decorations, a huge tender Butterball turkey at the center. Elaborate dishes display all the glorious foods I’ve prepared.
The entire family, and a few strangers in need of a meal, all gathered at the table holding hands, heads bowed in prayer and thankfulness.
Yeah right! (Eye roll)
This might be your Thanksgiving dinner every year, and if it is, good on you. I’m truly happy for you and maybe just a tad bit envious.
Our family is a functioning dysfunctional one ha-ha! And we are grateful to even get together to share a meal these days, with all the different directions we’re headed.
And if you know anything about the Thompson or Feasel family, you know that we are a bit sarcastic, loud, and very opinionated. This makes for some crazy times when we have family get-togethers. It’s okay, though. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I don’t think I’ll ever give up on the grand Thanksgiving plans, but, for now, I’ll settle for paper plates, blow-up mattresses, suitcases carefully shoved into every nook and cranny to make room, each of us serving our own Thanksgiving dinner off the stove, and after dinner very competitive card games, with WAY too many people trying to fit at the small kitchen table to be in on the fun!
Some of your grand plans for the holidays might not be physically possible at this time of your life, but I’ll tell you what is possible.
Blessings others with words of affirmation.
Telling others how thankful you are for them.
This is something that doesn’t cost money but is so very valuable.
Last year I got a brilliant idea!
I decided to write a quick note to each of my family members, stating what I was thankful for in each of them.
I put each note in an envelope with the family member’s name on it and passed them out after our meal.
Everyone was asked to take a turn and read it out loud for everyone to hear. Okay, I actually told them they had to. Remember I’m the firstborn and in charge!
Needless to say, there were some tears.
There is something very powerful about reading an affirming, positive word about yourself out loud.
I know some of you might be thinking to yourself, “I really don’t think I can write one positive thing about Aunt so and so. If you only knew the trouble she causes at every holiday event.”
Well, I have a solution for you. Write a note to her about who God says she is. And if you really think about it there is something good to be said about everyone, however small it is.
Some of my family members had a hard time even reading this letter of thankfulness out loud. We were all choked up when it was said and done.
Why is that?
I think it’s because we don’t hear enough affirmation from each other. We tend to bend toward complaints and the negative aspects of family.
So how bout we change that, folks! How about surprising everyone who will be at your holiday table this year with a Thanksgiving note.
It doesn’t have to be long, but it needs to be specific and personalized.
Something special about them that you are grateful for.
I promise those words of affirmation and thankfulness will far outweigh any grand holiday plans you have.
Plus turkey and pumpkin pie are so overrated. I’ll take tamales and menudo any day.
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