“There’ll be days like this,” my mama said. There have been a few times in my life when things that are pretty routine have become infrequent. Things like putting on make-up or cleaning the trash out of my car or making a path through my living room or actually calculating whether there are too many carbs in this meal I’ve prepared. Some of the days of care-taking for my parents were like that. Some of the days when I was finishing a degree and some of the days when my children were very young. These kinds of days and weeks don’t always text ahead and ask if I’m ready for their visitation. Often it’s just a series of unexpected events that together make life suddenly and abruptly frantic and chaotic.
Such are the days of this autumn. It’s my favorite time of the year, in any normal year. But this year, there are family members with Covid, large projects for which I am responsible, and lots of extra people in my house due to circumstances that I did not plan or execute. I still love the colors outside, the chill in the air, the football games I’m not watching, the fall trip to see the leaves that we’re not taking this year, the pumpkin spice, and the autumn decorations in the bins downstairs that I’ve not had time to open. In fact, I praise Him everyday for the beauty and provision all around me. But I just prioritize and pray He will help me get the things done that really matter—eternal things—and not worry about the rest.
Last night Glenn prayed that God would not interpret the despair that sometimes overtakes us, in seasons of distress or busy-ness, as ingratitude, because “…you have blessed us immeasurably and we don’t want to ever appear as if we don’t know that.” I’ve been thinking about how we make sure that we are not viewed, by God or man, as ungrateful. I think there are two or three obvious ways.
- We keep sharing the good news. We cannot ever get so busy or burdened that we are not evangelistic. We have to keep passing out those cards inviting people to study. We have to keep taking time to meet up with the new converts and trying to nurture infant faiths. We have to take children with whom we have influence, in our laps and look straight into their eyes and talk about how great God is every day. We can’t forget, even when we are needing to hurry and get home, to find the visitors at our services and welcome them and make ourselves available to answer their questions. I think, in these ways, we show our Father that we understand that our greatest blessing has remained untouched by any adversity this life may throw our way.
- We verbalize to God. Sometimes it helps me, in the busiest times of life, to pray on my knees, or to pray out loud while driving. In the times when there’s little sleep and lots of bustle, prayer sitting in a recliner or lying in bed, can quickly digress into unintelligible sentences. Speaking our gratitude to Him every day with clarity, is one way we magnify Him (Psalm 69: 30).
- We look around for encouragement. Now, I know that, when you’re feeding a crowd for every meal around your own table, you may not be taking as many meals to the grieving or the sick of your congregation. When you are struggling financially, your service has to be on the skinny. When you’re sick, spreading love may also be spreading germs. But Ola Mae is a nonagenarian with Covid and she continues to make and send cards of encouragement to many people in many places. Carol is in the fourth stage of cancer and she is the number one encourager, to the Colleys and many others, through the written word. Mark is suffering from Crohn’s disease and his heartfelt teaching and admonishing through song in every worship service brings tears to my eyes when I sit near him. Glenn was pretty sick earlier this fall, but I have watched him just keep on faithfully administering that role of being the meat in the sandwich generation while getting back on his feet and back in his pulpit. Lin has had some serious health complications this fall…some major medical tests being done—but she keeps right on heading up more than one ministry in her congregation and homeschooling her children and she even spoke at a recent ladies event. Teresa has seriously struggled with multiple health issues, but spoke from home via zoom at a great ladies day last weekend. Betty and Bill both had Covid this fall, but they are right back in their pew now and serving as the leaders of our group of active seniors. Paul is dealing daily with parents who are not long for this earth and he, too, is balancing parents and kids in stressful times, but he calls every day to encourage my husband. I’m just saying, look around. You will find many examples of extreme gratitude and you will find many reasons to get on your knees and thank the good Lord.