“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
For our family of seven (soon to be 8), a weekend “off” (or mostly off) is a rare and celebrated occasion. When that weekend falls in such a way that I’m not working AND the weather is nice, we get downright giddy – especially when said weekend is in November. See, we live in Indiana. We’ve been under frost advisories and even warnings since mid-September. When we saw the forecast for this weekend was temperatures in the 60’s, we started planning outside chores for the whole family. It is time to get ready for winter.
We decided on two tasks that really NEEDED to be accomplished this weekend. The leaves need to be raked, and the garage needs cleaned out. We had been working on several indoor projects as school started which had led us to neglecting the garage and using it more for storage of sports equipment instead of the van. Two mornings last week had frost thick enough to require a scraper on the windows, and thus I decided it was time to get the van back into the garage.
The kids decided to start with raking. My husband and I decided to start with emptying the garage. As we continued to empty, it became more and more evident that we have critters living in our garage, namely mice. First and foremost we were disgusted and feeling very creepy-crawly (and still feeling this way in many, many ways).
Then I started thinking about all the Facebook posts that run rampant in the month of November, “Today I am thankful for…” I do it too. And I truly am thankful, and very blessed, for my faith, husband, children, family, home, health, friends, and so on and so on. But what about the things that happen in the day-to-day, or even the minute-to-minute? Do I stop and remember to “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks?” Wait, rejoice and give thanks for mice in the garage?!? How do I do that? How do I give thanks and rejoice in the minute details?
In the case of the garage, I am thankful that the van hasn’t been in the garage. I am thankful that they are in the garage, not the house (stretching a little, yes, maybe).
When the children fight (what, kids fight? Not MINE ;)), I need to pray for God’s grace, for myself and for them. I also am thankful that I have children, that they are boisterous and opinionated, and that the majority of the time, they love and look out for each other. I may cringe when my oldest is the lector at Mass and our youngest cries out, “There’s my Jackie!” but inside I’m happy she loves her brother so much and even happier when, after Mass, he picks her up right in front of his classmates and friends to give her a hug before returning to school.
When someone is hurt or hurting at school or church, the prayer requests run rampant. I’m overwhelmed with emotion thinking of our school and our church family. There is no such thing as too many prayer requests because we are told to “Pray without ceasing.”
Our group comes together to provide meals for the family in crisis, rides for children, and childcare, whatever is needed. While we aren’t rejoicing that the family is having trouble, we rejoice that we have our faith uniting us and propelling us to be Christ in flesh to one another.
See, it is in our perspective that we can find God or get lost in this world. Jesus tells us to be in this world but not of this world. We are here to do our best, to serve God and others and love as Jesus did, but this is not our eternal home. In each moment we have a choice to fall victim to the self-pity that we may feel we deserve given our current circumstances or to turn to God and give Him our concerns, our worries, our failings, our triumphs. When we choose the latter, we are living as Jesus taught us, and we receive His strength to face our challenges. “I have the strength for everything through Him who empowers me.” Philippians 4:13
Getting back to our mouse situation, we could have chosen to let it ruin our weekend, turned on each other, blaming one another or the children for letting the garage become the mess it had, for spilling the dog food that seems to be so attractive to these creatures. Instead we chose to work together, to really clean out the garage, purging as we went, trying to minimize the attractiveness of our home and garage to these creatures in the future.
Every moment has the potential for being a “God-moment.” It doesn’t have to be a rock-my- world- life-changing event where we say, “Oh yeah, remember when God did…” Sometimes, it is the smile that greets you when you turn expecting a sour face because they were sitting by your biggish family at church. Sometimes, it is the basket scored by a player who doesn’t have that opportunity often and the cheer that rises from the crowd is reminiscent of winning a state tournament, and you know that is only because we are all a big family, united in Christ, that they cheer in such a way. When we focus on the key verse, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, any moment becomes a “God-moment” because our eyes are open to His presence all around us and in our hearts.
What are you thankful for? What unexpected place have you seen God in your life?