Sunday, December 1, 2002
A thankful heart
MARY JANE HOLT
November is my month of thanksgiving and a time to actually make a list of those things for which I am most thankful. I'm always too busy on Thanksgiving Day to truly reflect so I start early. Then by the time the big day gets here, I usually know what I am most thankful for.
I have maintained for the better part of my life now that it is impossible to be consumed with anger, bitterness, resentfulness, hate, worry, and thanksgiving, at the same time.
You see, thankfulness takes up too much room in the heart that allows it to rule. There is no space left for negative emotions to hang out indefinitely. The only reason they are ever allowed in at all is because the heart knows there is much to be learned by listening to what they have to say. But somehow a spirit of thanksgiving knows how to glean what should be gleaned and send unwelcome emotions on their way.
Though it can become heavy at times, the thankful heart is a light heart for the most part, and a happy one. It can take the most gosh awful day, when absolutely everything that could go wrong does go wrong and find something good in it, something to be thankful for.
The thankful heart sees reality for what it is, with its multitudinous layers of truth and untruth. It knows as a wise man once said that "there is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that it hardly behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us." So it looks for truth and beauty in all things and all people.
The thankful heart listens to our feeble verbalizations and watches our pathetic actions and even more pathetic inaction at times, and still chooses to see beyond it all and focus on that which is lovely and worthy of praise.
I like to think that God has a thankful heart. I know my Bible teaches that it is I who should be thankful to God for all things. Yet, somehow, I suspect that God knows the feeling too.
Having created us with free hearts, I believe He is happy, joyful, and yes, thankful, when we choose freely to want to know Him and to love Him.
And that brings me to what I am most thankful for this year. I feel that I am starting to know God all over again. I find that "His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways not our ways." Assuredly there is no more profound scripture.
Psalm 91 is among my favorite Bible passages. I have taken great pride and felt tremendously thankful on many occasions during my life because I felt I knew God.
How foolish I have been, and am. In truth, I know little more than His name, and that name, "I AM WHO I AM", as He introduced Himself to Moses, is enough to know.
That is what I am most thankful for this year. It is enough to know that God is "I AM". Not I was, not I will be, certainly not I may be, but I AM.
During a poignant ambulance ride earlier this year when I could not feel parts of my body and had begun to no longer care if I lived or died, I AM cared for me in the person of a paramedic who went through all the necessary motions she is trained to go through in order to stabilize a patient to the best of her ability. Then she prayed for me. Aloud. And she kissed my clammy forehead. And she pulled her private cell phone from her pocket and asked if there was anyone I wanted to call.
I asked her to dial the cell phone number of my son who is also a paramedic and was on duty. I told him, no matter what happened, not to leave his station, to serve with all his might in the profession to which God had called him, because, for the first time, I was experiencing first hand what a high calling it was.
I wanted to publish here today the name of the paramedic who cared for me so tenderly, but somehow I don't think she would want me to do that. Instead, I have chosen to focus on the name of the One who lives in her, and in so many others like her, who serve so extraordinarily well in the midst of what would be overwhelmingly challenging circumstances for most of us.
To them, and to the One whose influence keeps them at their stations, I say "Thank You" from the depths of my heart.