There is a scar on the wall of our garage. Few will ever see it, even fewer know its significance. It emerged slowly, like color bleeding through whitewash on the wall of an ancient building. As the wall continues to yield to the gentle impact of a small gate, the scar has become beauty to me. It has been given wings. It has become a reminder of thanksgiving.
There are days when giving thanks comes easily for me. The list is long of things I am thankful for—my family, sweet friends, our home, the opportunity to minister to the discarded, the freedom to live in this country and worship God without fear, and to know that I am the Lord’s and no one can snatch me from his hand.
I’m thankful for Jesus, coffee in the mornings, an ice-cold Diet Dr Pepper on a warm summer day, or a glass of wine when nights get cold. I’m thankful for hours spent baking treats in the kitchen as the fragrance fills the air, long car rides on back-country roads with no destination in mind, and capturing moments with the click of a camera and the tap of a keyboard. I’m thankful for the tender beauty that comes in hugging my grandchildren tightly and the pride that wells up when I see my son care for his wife or teach a congregation about the Lord’s unfailing faithfulness. I’m thankful to have a husband who loves me so well and so completely, even when I am but hanging on the fringe of lovely. I’m thankful for friends who let me dance for no good reason at all.
How I love to dance.
And yet, God calls me to give thanks when I fall. He moves me to give thanks when sunburn accompanies sunshine, when roads are rutted and pocked, and when a flower’s sweetness is thwarted by a bee’s sting.
He knows the riches that await in the giving. Oh, not the giving defined as offer or share. He loves the giving of surrender—a bending, yielding sort of giving that causes hearts to break open and yet feel whole. There is a depth of thanksgiving that can only be discovered when the giving is sacrificial; when the act of offering itself leaves us feeling naked and vulnerable. It’s in those moments when the giving becomes sacred—transformational. I surrender thanks. And all around me changes. I am given wings.
I give thanks for the yielding of my body to the seasons that pass more quickly with each year. I give thanks for the finite number of days and the vapor of a life that remind me to be present in each today I am given. I give thanks for the scars I bear from past harm, for each tell a story of redemption. I give thanks for the days of doubt. I give thanks for the frailty in fear. I give thanks for the journey on roads that seem never-ending. I give thanks for the ache of a broken heart. I give thanks for the brokenness that always leads me back home.
Today, I pray we yield. I pray we are transformed through thanksgiving. I pray we are given wings.
“Be thankful, whatever the circumstances may be. If you follow this advice you will be working out the will of God expressed to you in Jesus Christ”(1 Thessalonians 5:18, Phillips).