In a recent ‘Family Circus’ comic strip (yes, another comic strip!) Mommy asks young Billy to go ask his dad to come help her with some boxes in the attic. Billy dutifully heads off, briefly looking through every room of the house, out the back door, then a quick tree shinney, followed by a quick kick around of a ball left on the lawn, next a brief hello to the mailman, a pause to pet the dog, and finally back into the house and eventually into the garage where he, at last, locates his father, saying, “Mommy wants to know if you need her help.” to which Daddy replies, “Tell her thank you, but I’m fine.” You saw that coming, didn’t you? I’m reminded of a real-life incident of friends in France. Our very pregnant friend and her husband were rehabbing a dilapidated, old house. One day she was upstairs when a false step plunged her foot through the floor and the ceiling below, landing her awkwardly astride a ceiling joist. Her then six-year-old son heard her calling and she asked him to go get his father for her. Several minutes later, the husband, working outside, installing a new window, happened to ask his son if he knew where his mother was, at which point he said, pointing, “She’s up there. She made a hole.” Sudden alarm prompted a drop-what-you’re-doing, run-as-fast-as-you-can response, calling her name the whole way (update: she and the baby were shaken but otherwise unharmed).
I tell these stories because I can relate them to my own personal journey to the Father’s heart. I read God’s Word. I’m convicted by his love for me and feel elated by the idea of passionately passing it on. But what do I do? I dawdle. I find certain projects suddenly becoming urgent, people becoming the priority (that’s a good thing, right?), then the weather changes plans, then there’s a holiday weekend, then there are COVID restrictions pressing me to reconsider, and, well, you get the point. My joy at God’s invitation in my life gets swept up in muchness and otherness and beckoning, golden fields of grain and hills alive with the sound of music. My plan, setting out, veers off, doubles back, gets disoriented, and finally, erratically, finds itself again. Or, sometimes, I’ve gotten tripped up by my overly zealous emotional responses and found myself uncomfortably, inextricably wedged between two conflicting commitments. (I’m grateful for what Paul wrote in Romans 7, because I feel he understood my recurring dilemma.) The importance of our gratitude memory exercise is its guarantee to keep us tracking with Jesus, hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit, successfully accomplishing our mission as received. Especially in these final, frantic, six weeks of 2021 (the Holidays as they are known), winsomely passing on our gratitude to the frazzled, the cynical, the exhausted, the depressed, will build up our faith (and fill our joy tanks) and provide them with a huge, life-giving gulp of fresh, of hope, of new perspective. And their thanks will be enough. PD