"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving."
- W. T. Purkiser
The Thanksgiving holiday has been a time for reflection and thanks. We offer thanks mostly for God's blessings to us. It seems we are always thankful for what we perceive as God's blessing's. I often wonder if I only thank God when sickness ends, when a check comes in the mail, when my kids obey, do good in school, or make me happy. Really thats mostly it...I am most thankful when I feel happy, and that is the feeling I have assigned to blessing. That happiness is also is closely linked to how comfortable I am, and how far I away I feel from loneliness, hurt, anger, pain, and despair. The reality is, my thanks is based in how good my flesh feels, and my flesh wants me to believe that only things that feeI good, are blessings from God. I am mostly controlled by my fleshly passions, doing, seeking, believing and saying things that help make my life work. I read books to be a better Christian, better leader, a better friend, husband and father. When I pray, I ask for God blessings, I want the kind that make my life fall into good order and things to work out for my happiness. I am so easily deceived by a formulated Christian walk in which I believe if I do this, this, and this and hold it up to God, then He will give this other thing I want. The reality is that 99% of my life is spent trying to feel good, make life work, and keep up my end of a man made formula to keep God happy with me so I keep on receiving what my flesh says it deserves.
I know what your saying right now, cmon' Tony, you are being to hard, to negative, you are overstating; you are a good guy, who loves God and He loves you. God wants you to be happy... That may all be true, yet in total honesty I know there is a big dark hole that every human feels and we try desperately to fill it with fleshly happiness. For some, we try to fill that hole with really good things, things that appear soul satisfying, yet we often twist them into fleshly pursuits... serving, loving, caring, helping, prayer, reading. For others, we try and fill it with things like sex, food, drugs, working, or whatever makes us feel a little better, little moments of euphoria that we mistake for real soul satisfaction. Either way it is us trying to plug a hole from our side and does little to further ourselves in the very reason God made us.
The issue in all of this is simply that our flesh blinds to what makes our soul truly happy. True happiness, real satisfaction, genuine freedom, total peace can only be had from closeness to God. Our life's pursuits as Christians need to be, first and foremost a drive to be close to God. At all fleshly costs move towards Him, be with Him, desire Him, and live for His presence. Only God satisfies, nothing else we try and do quenches the burning fire of our souls. Nothing else we use to fill the dark hole works, no formula can force God's hand and nothing we do can get us to place to deserve anything.
So with all that being said, you are probably saying; well this is a downer, you sure are a negative guy Tony! I would agree, yet I know that God has been knocking on my door trying to get me to understand this, and it has not come easy for me. I have spent countless hours doing God's work, giving all I have to further His kingdom. Working as hard as I can, as long as I can, to make sure His word gets out. Yet for the most part I have failed. Failed because my heart was not in the right place, because my pursuits usually are not to move closer to God, but rather to feel better about my relationship with Him. While I truly understand God takes even what we do for the wrong reasons and turns it into good, I also know it does little for my soul.
So I write all of these things to simply say that I ask for your prayer, your love, and your understanding as I move towards just being with God, Doing His work to be close to Him, using my gifts to be close to Him, being thankful for His true blessings (which are things that often make us hurt as He refines us) to be close to Him, and listening and responding to His voice to be close to Him. I have been working to identify areas in my life where I have not put God's agenda first and have done things for the wrong reasons. So no more will I addictivly eat to calm the stress, feel good, or fill an aching hole in my heart. No more will I work as hard as I can using my gifts to feel good about myself, build my ego or seek praise. No more will I give love in order to receive love back, not to feel lonely, or get a result. I could go on and on here, but you get the picture! I am praying for Gods strength to move closer to Him, accept His circumstances, and trust Him, then I will truly be able to give thanks for His blessings.