Because my children are out of school all week, they have had the pleasure (ha ha) of joining me during my daily errands, chores and activities. Though all the extra help has made my daily rhythm feel a little different, it has been surprisingly pleasant to see just how much they are now capable of doing--grocery carts, lists, shopping, waiting (basically) patiently.
One of the items on my agenda this week was an annual check up with the doctor that delivered my trio. He works an hour and a half away in Atlanta, so although I have faithfully shown him pictures of my growing brood over the years, it was still a special moment when he introduced himself to K, P & R in the waiting room yesterday. They were a far cry from the 2 and 3 lb preemies he met a decade ago. When they each shook his hand and said "thank you" to Dr. Donnelly, it took my breath away. (I can't believe I didn't take their picture!)
I felt that my gratitude, although expressed to him countless times before, had a deeper meaning Tuesday. In a moment it was clear we had come full circle.
When I went into labor at 23 weeks, who would have believed these three thriving, precocious people would be standing before us a decade later?
It is our human nature to feel deeply in the moment, but time and the pace of life can cause us to move right along. We are wired to be looking out for the next big thing, but the perspective that comes from pausing to remember can be sobering.
As I was driving home from that appointment, I thought about the account in Luke 17 of the ten lepers Jesus healed.
"And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?"
He healed ten people...radically, positively altered the courses of their lives...and only one returned to say thanks. It is easy to read this story in retrospect and judge the nine, but it took me a mere minute to think of possible excuses because I can identify with each one in my own life:
Perhaps they weren't ungrateful, just busy. They were out telling others about how good God had been that there wasn't time to come back.
Maybe they were entitled, felt as if they earned it or deserved it. They had served their time in misery, this was their time to rebuild their lives.
They might have even shouted a "Thank you, Jesus" as they returned to their agendas. They were grateful in their hearts, wasn't that enough?
Perhaps they assumed the altruism of Jesus didn't desire any thanksgiving in return.
And yet, Jesus allows us to see His question: "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?" That part is in the Bible for a purpose.
I have been pondering this account all day as I polish, cook, clean and prepare for the Thanksgiving feast in my home tomorrow:
Lord, make me like the one who saw, turned back, praised and gave thanks..not just on social media, but in the quiet moments of humility, meant just for you to hear.
And, Lord, help me not just list the trite circumstantial things...health, family, prosperity, peace. I am exceedingly grateful that my lines have fallen in pleasant places...but grant me the ability to 'see' and turn back in the less traditional places, because, we don't come to the Thanksgiving banquet tables from flawless backgrounds and perfect circumstances. Many of us come with worries, regrets, frustration, fear, heartbreak, complicated lives. Yet, in Hebrews 5: 8 we are encouraged to "...give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Those 3 little letters A-L-L change my list. They lead my heart to prayers that sound a bit more raw:
Thank you for the doors you have closed to protect me from myself and my own fleshly will.
Thank you for the times you have told me NO to heal me of my greed and cause me to lean on your wisdom.
Thank you for the stumbles, bruises and scars you have allowed to heal me of my prideful self reliance so I can more fully trust you.
Thank you for less than perfect children who reveal a lot of 'less than perfect' in my own heart.
Thank you for the challenging journey of making two lives one in marriage to give me a picture of your great love for your own bride, the Church.
And mostly, thank you for calling me your child--for loving me despite my junk--and for giving me countless opportunities to experience your grace, love and peace.
Because God is faithful in ALL things, I can be grateful in ALL circumstances.
May Thanksgiving not be a day, but a heart attitude that honors Him in seeing, turning back, praising and saying thanks.