While many people are running around ensuring that they have all the necessary ingredients to make those special someones dinner for Thanksgiving, I find myself reflecting upon the concept of gratitude. If I had my way, of course I would be involved in the frenzy as well, but I don’t’ have the funds to support my shopping just yet. I’m grateful however at the anticipation of getting paid in less than 48 hours, and then grocery store here I come. In the interim, as well as after, I pause to thank God for supplying all my needs!
There are not many days left in 2014. It has been a year filled with as many trials as triumphs. I got a new job which I love, and there are elements of my responsibilities that have had me in tears on many drives home. God blessed me with resources to address some medical issues, and my healing was delayed with additional issues emerging that went (and still remain) undiagnosed. I met some new and incredible people who immediately poured into my life, while saying goodbye to others who I believed would remain for a lifetime. I prayed and believed God for maturing my children even more, and when he answered my prayer, I found myself taken aback, wondering and navigating this new sphere of parenting. I wouldn’t dare place blame on the enemy for all things not working in the manner that I felt that they should. He shall not get that credit. I heard Bishop TD Jakes say in a recent sermon, “Tests are custom designed to the continuity of your weaknesses.” There has been a lot taken away, but I refuse to allow the enemy to have my praise while God is breaking me of every aspect that is not of him. The God of my salvation could have done his own episode of SchoolHouse Rock on nouns, because he will use a person, place or things to rid you of that which is not of his image and that which is in opposition to the building of his kingdom. There are things that I recognize and can boldly state, “Yes, I’m in agreement, *that* is not what I desire to project, please change me.” And yet there are many components whereby I felt as though there was smooth sailing in my life and suddenly I hit a sunken iceberg out of nowhere and I’m thrown, tossed to and fro if you will, completely out of my element. My disorientation as a believer in God becomes challenged and the usual rituals of reconnection are limited and less impactful that what I need for survival.
Some folk while shopping for the usual trappings of Thanksgiving are simultaneously shopping for Christmas as well. I have no quarrels with either, but I’m simply giving thanks with what I have left, all I have left after a tumultuous year. There are fragments scattered everywhere, but I still have a shipwrecked praise!
Shipwrecks have happened throughout maritime history, and many have lost their lives as a result. Although that may have been the enemy’s intent, God has the final say. Shipwrecks occur for a myriad of reasons, poor navigation, a storm, even an enemy attack. Throughout 2014, I have experienced all of the aforementioned and those that I don’t have the capacity to attribute. Yet I hold fast to Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” One thing that I can be certain of is that the author and finisher of my faith shall never leave me nor forsake me.
My praise shall not be diminished by destruction. My praise shall not be limited because of my limitations. My praise shall not be hindered because of harrowment. My praise shall not be absent because of abyss. When I enlisted in this thing called discipleship, I took a vow, a vow acknowledging commitment through the good, the bad and the ugly. No matter the circumstance, I can’t think of one single trial experienced that has not birthed something in me that I have not appreciated in retrospect, because it strengthened my faith and brought me closer to my Creator. My praise is for an audience of one, shipwrecked and all. I am reminded of the lyrics to Center of My Joy by Richard Smallwood:
“When I’ve lost my direction, You’re the compass for my way,
You’re the fire and light when nights are long and cold.
In sadness, You are the laughter, that shatters all my fears,
when I’m all alone, Your hand is there to hold.”
I don’t know the plight of 2014 for you. But if you are reading this, you are a survivor! Let’s join together to offer our very best praise, our Shipwrecked praise to a God who is a very present help in the time of trouble! As we concentrate on him, we pay less attention to our surroundings; after all, he is the one who will gather the pieces of our brokenness and show himself as the mender of all hearts and minds.