Holidays make me miss my Dad who died a young eighty five… I also miss the family who live a little too far from us to be with and the family who are separated from us for other reasons too at this time in their lives. It is hard to be away from them all at a time when the holiday just reeks ‘brothers and cousins and Mom and Dad’ but I am glad for those I can be with just the same – though a tear may fall into the stuffing along with the chicken ‘stock’ and dried bread. Somethings can’t be helped – I guess I can add a little less salt if it does. (Now who wants to eat at my house!!? lol)
Maybe there is more than a tinge of sadness that is a bother in the midst of your recipe planning, food buying, cooking and general prep for the day of Thanksgiving coming up soon. (wow… it is just two days away now – I sure hope the turkey will be thawed out in time! – P.S. see how distracted I get? It is tough getting old – have you heard the one about…whoops…) We get so busy during this time of year that we can be gloomy or even truly sad and not really take the time to figure out why. We might say to ourselves, “What is really wrong… and should I – do I have time to…to squeeze out even a few minutes to take stock and take it to the Lord and examine His Word and figure out what the problem is?”
If that is you then you are not alone. The holidays are times of sadness for many. Some may choose to get to the bottom of it but most won’t, choosing to instead sweep it up with another scoop of seven layer salad or a cup of “strong” egg-nog. If you are a Christian it would be better to face the music and simply take stock of where you are and where you have been and once again, “enter in to the joy of your Lord.” We know that “in His presence is fullness of joy – at His right hand are pleasures for ever more! But is that our actual experience during the week? I am sure for some it is. If your heart is rejoicing – then get loud and praise and worship and thank the Lord for His bountiful gifts!
But what if you are stuck? What if you are down and not able to quickly stoke up the fires and get them bright and burning right away? Take the simple route…if you want a better attitude of gratitude…
Take stock I say – take inventory – see what’s missing in the store house. Has some gnarly character come crawling and creeping into your world and you somehow missed it? Thieves are usually burglars. They sneak in with the expertise of a spider or a mouse and rummage all over the house undetected but nonetheless their work is to our peril – they do real damage. They wait for you to fall asleep, they work at night and work hard at not being noticed. But they do such damage when we are unaware…when we haven’t been taking stock. The Bible says to examine ourselves to see if we are “in the faith.” Not only should we make sure we are really saved but that also we are “being saved” or a better word is…being sanctified. We easily drift, and wander, and coast – the Word says be diligent, watchful, sober-minded. We must continue to reassess…examine, walk circumspectly!
In His commentary on Revelation, Matthew Henry puts it this way: “they must compare their present with their former state, and consider how much better it was with them then than now, how much peace, strength, purity, and pleasure they have lost, by leaving their first love,—how much more comfortably they could lie down and sleep at night,—how much more cheerfully they could awake in the morning,—how much better they could bear afflictions, and how much more becomingly they could enjoy the favours of Providence,—how much easier the thoughts of death were to them, and how much stronger their desires and hopes of heaven.” Boiling that all down, take stock!
The problem in Revelation 2 that Matthew H. was writing about all the way back in 1701 is the same problem we face now…the tendency of all of us is to decline in our love of Christ and not to increase in it. It’s like a slow leak really. Not a lot of noise, in fact it happens with us being quite unaware. It is not as though we have abandoned Jesus or His Word – we just get flat on one side of the tire. We give Him – second rate love…and old the first place for old number one! We have a little faith when we know He desires the big’n – but it works itself into our actual lives – we don’t have any fervor in our praying, or we don’t get mad at sin – we are no more grieved at abominations than we are of a hiccup. We don’t hate what God hates and love what He loves. We get politically correct – spiritually speaking. WE ACT TOO RESPECTABLE when we praise the Lord of glory!! We all tend towards getting more religious and less raptured…that is unacceptable when we used to get all excited and freaky by just one glimpse from our Savior.
Oh that we would take simple stock of the situation and see the truth of Jesus’ Words in Revelation 2:7 – the simple solution – repent and do the first works! Be grieved over your own declension. Be mad at your stupidity – your lack of zeal – then turn from it and turn to the gracious and loving embrace of the one who delights in you…His gaze is sufficient for ridding the stain or your shame – one coal from His fire will cleanse you and warm your heart simultaneously.
Then pick yourself up by His grace and love others. Show the reality of the first love man or woman that you really are – be the city set on a hit in miniature and it will rub off on other like minded men and women and the city will indeed be shining even brighter than it was a few minutes before. You will then praise like you did when you first were born again and sing with the rest of the throng of blood bought lovers of JESUS:
Hallelujah Thine the Glory
Hallelujah Thine the Glory
Revive us again!
Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.*
Thank you Lord for loving us so much – and forgive our less than mutual love in return. Thank you for your Word that reminds us, and Shepherds us – and warms us and fills us! Thank you for reminding us to take stock – and then to be thankful in all things!!!
Hallelujah – what a Savior!
*(I can still hear my Dad singing this at the top of his lungs during “the Breaking of Bread” in our Plymouth Brethren tradition – sweet memories…so thankful for those days!)