The fancies and reflections of a loquacious ninja

Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Duty, results, and thankfulness

Over election week, I went on a campaigning trip where for several days, I and many others engaged in various endeavors aimed to affect the outcome of the election. We had a short devotional each morning before shipping out; on Tuesday morning, our devotion centered on this simple verse: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

The first part of the verse reminded us that though our campaigning was largely done in the names of the various officials we hoped to elect into office or organizations we happened to be collaborating with, our efforts would ultimately be in vain, regardless of the results, if not done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Striving to serve those other names that week was entirely appropriate, but only if kept in perspective with our primary focus, the name above all names.

To do all things in this name has ramifications: How can you do anything in the name of the King of the Universe, and do it in a half-hearted, timid spirit? How can you act in the name of the One who is lowly and meek in heart, in a manner that is ungracious or ungentle? And how can you live in the name of the Prince of Peace in a spirit of constant frustration and anxiety? It’s a question worth pondering: what does it look like practically for me to carry out the task before me, and my whole life, in the name of Jesus?

This brought us to the second part of the verse. Having done all things in the name of Jesus, both word and deed, the proper course is not to take ownership of or to agonize over the results. It is to thank the Father. In the context of our work there as campaigners, I was reminded of the sermon I had attended that Sunday, in which the pastor exhorted his congregation to approach the impending election with humility and graciousness, neither returning the next Sunday with knowing “I told you so” smiles or “This is it; the apocalypse is upon us!” broadcasts of despair.

I find it interesting that at its root, both of these responses display a denial of the Lordship of Christ mentioned in the verse. One remarks “now all things will be put to rights; we have the right people in office,” the other laments “clearly, with these folks in office, the end is nigh,” but both fundamentally place their trust in the political leaders to make things right, rather than the sovereign God. Towards the neighbor who voted differently, both display a sort of ungracious arrogance, a turning away from the character of God, which in essence is a denial of His Lordship over one’s life. And both fail to thank God for what He has already done; one because he’s too busy celebrating the victory won by human effort, the other because he sees nothing to be thankful for. Both are greatly mistaken.

Instead, as we are commanded to do all things in Jesus’ name, we are called to be thankful in all things through our Lord Jesus to God our Father. And such an attitude of thankfulness, acknowledging both God’s sovereignty over all circumstances and over one’s own life, does not easily degenerate into either of these extremes of arrogance or despair.

The motto for the campaigning organization we worked through was “the duty is ours, the results are God’s.” This obviously applies and was intended to apply to political elections and offices, but it seems every bit as applicable to the rest of our lives also: our jobs, families, schoolwork, hobbies, friendships, and so on. A very real duty is set before us; to do all things as unto the Lord, in the name of Christ. Yet once this is done, the results belong in the hands of the very same Lord. We can and should hoe, plant, water, and weed with the best that we have to offer in our abilities and attitudes, but it is He who makes the crops grow or wither, not us. And however the harvest appears for the future, still we put our trust in Him and remain faithful to His character, through our Lord giving thanks.

How I just took an event from election week and turned it into a Thanksgiving message is beyond me, but I hope that you spent and enjoyed this day in a time of gratitude to the Lord and fellowship with others. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  ~ Timothy


I thank You

It had been an evening of great joy; of much laughter with good friends, healthy excitement and bustling, and the abundant fruition of work well done. I knelt that night with a full (overflowing really) heart before God, and thanked Him for the many blessings He’d poured into my life, especially the ones he’d made especially evident that night.

Lord, I thank You for friendship and fellowship. Thank You for the many people You’ve blessed my life with, and all the bonds that have been forged between us, both the causal friendships and the deeper relationships. I thank You for the time that you’ve given us to enjoy together, the many little joys and jokes we share, the small but far-reaching words and acts of encouragement even in the rougher spots of life, the smiles that shoot joy straight to the heart.

I thank you for the many talents and gifts that You’ve so freely poured out, and the bountiful opportunities that You’ve provided to develop those talents, especially in an environment of godly encouragement where all thanks and praise is rightfully returned to You. I thank You for the wonderful uniqueness that these gifts give to each person.

For the gift of music, I praise and thank You. God, thank You for creating a medium capable of expressing both the deepest felt emotions in the human spectrum of experience, and the most light-hearted ones as well. Thank You for the immeasurable beauty and light that comes with well-written and performed music.

Lord, for the gift of laughter and humor, I can’t thank You enough. Thank You for making such a medicine for the heart and soul, and for the health it gives to hearts and minds, even bodies that are feeling down. Thank You that there is still clean fun and occasions for laughter that please You today, and the honest joy it brings.

God, thank You for the gift of honest work; that You reward the dutiful laborer in his time, and that honest toil and bountiful harvests come together as often as they do. Thank You especially for the gift of teamwork, where many can come together as one, and put forth an effort bigger than what any individual could ever achieve.

And Lord, thank You for…

Here I paused. These were the many sweet and beautiful things that God had showered on my life thus far, and I knew it was fitting that I praise Him for them. But all these things – good, true, and beautiful as they were – were not, in the strictest sense, necessities.

In other words, the ability to take part in them could easily be taken away from me one day.

I could lose my sight or my hearing, and never be able to fully appreciate a picture, song, or performance again. I could be struck with paralysis tomorrow, and be unable to dance for the rest of my life. As much as I love singing and speaking, I could easily permanently lose my voice (I know someone who had this happen to him; he lost both his sight and his ability to sing, almost to talk, in a single accident).

Something could happen to the friends I hold so dear to me. Or, something could take me away from them, to a place where I can’t hear their voices, feel their hugs, enjoy their laughter and smiles… Even my sense of humor, which I suppose would never fully leave me, could become so heavily oppressed by the aches and burdens of living, that it would lie dormant, and I would cease to enjoy the jokes and stories that bring me such pleasure now, or even to make others laugh.

There are so many people in this world, once alive with unsurpassed radiance and cheerful brightness, who now lie crushed under the strain and anguish of life, with their dearest joys torn from them. Am I exempt?

If any and every one of these small joys was to be taken away from me, what would I have to fall back upon? What will I have to be thankful for then?

Silence reigned for some time. Then, these words:

Lord, I thank You for Your goodness. I thank You for Your unfailing, unyielding love, a love so strong that no lapse of time, no vile deed, no heart-crushing circumstance, can ever break its power. I thank You for the grace You’ve given beyond all reason, for even someone like me, a self-righteous sinner, and the personal relationship (dare I say friendship?) You pursue with me, even though my days are few and my strength nothing to speak of, even while my heart stands divided and my love feebly wavers. I thank You for the unspeakable power You have to make me whole; to purify and empower my broken life, even to the point where I can be of some use in the Kingdom. I thank You for the mercies You renew each morning; most of which I remain completely unaware of.

I thank You for the life You have given me on this planet, each day and hour, each breath and heartbeat, which I know only come from Your good pleasure. I thank You that not a hair leaves my head without Your knowledge, and without Your consent. I thank You that I am fearfully, wonderfully, awesomely created in Your image, and that nothing will ever, or can ever, change that reality. I thank You that my all days have been impeccably foreordained, that You knew all of them before one came to be. I thank You that no matter where this path I tread travels, that You are the master of my fate, and no other. I thank You that You have the whole picture all worked out, even (especially) when I haven’t a clue, and that You manage the universe perfectly well without me. I thank You that I’m in good hands.

I thank You for the pre-knowledge (dare I say… warning?) that I am sure to suffer one day; sure to suffer, as I have never suffered before. I thank You that I will not be alone in this, that many have gone on before me through the shadowed valley, and that likely many will be alongside me through it. Above all, I thank You that You are the God of all Comfort, the Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor. And I thank You for all the things You have done, so that if and when I come to a place where I can’t sense Your presence, when no matter where I look Your face is hidden, I may look back on Your deeds, and praise You just the same. Thank You that You have promised a Hope that does not disappoint, that endures until it ends – no, fulfills – in the reality of all things hoped for.

God, I thank You that these things will never change, that You are the same today, tomorrow, a thousand years before or ahead, eternity past or future, for all time and beyond time. And Lord, for all the blessings, great and small, that I have forgotten, that I take so for granted, that I may never realize flow from You until I stand before You and gaze into Your face…

I thank You.

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Note about this post:

The event I referred to at the beginning of this post actually happened a few weeks ago, but I thought that the message was especially appropriate for the season. One last thing I’ll leave you with:

This video isn’t even officially out yet, but it’s certainly worth sharing. A beautiful reminder of how thanksgiving should permeate all of our lives (really, it applies all year round).

With that, I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving.

Gratitude and blessings,

~ Timothy

A poem for thanksgiving

Note about the following poem:

My mom asked me to write a poem for Thanksgiving to send out to her real estate clients, and here’s what I came up with. Please take it in all goodwill; otherwise, I’m afraid the tone gets rather preachy. Apologies for the convoluted language, abrupt stanzas, and Yoda-grammar (the price of writing poetry that rhymes). Enjoy!

How Do You Show Your Thankfulness?

How do you show your thankfulness
For all you have received?
How is your gratitude expressed
And through life daily weaved?

Are you thankful for possessions yours
Whatever they may be?
Does your gratitude then man the oars
Of stewardship, and generosity?

For the wealth you own, be it small or great,
Do you show your thanks in full?
Do you wisely spend, in prudence refrain
And respond to the needy’s pull?

If you’ve a job, is thankfulness
Evident in all your work?
Are your peers and boss, to have you, blessed?
Do you give no cause for irk?

Health is a blessing of unfelt bliss
However much we bear.
How do you show your thanks for this?
Does your body receive due care?

What of close friendship’s sturdy hill?
How displays your gratitude here?
Do you listen, encourage, and practice goodwill
Among friends you hold dear?

And for the gift of family
How is your thanks made known?
Is time spent in loving quality
Are seeds of kindness sown?

For freedoms paid for and received
Of belief, and petition, and speech,
Do you exercise them with gravity
And about them others teach?

For the glories of a wondrous world
And a Nature of great beauty,
Do you gratefully heed all of her pearls
And all her miracles see?

And for life itself, that blessed gift
Renewed with each today,
How do you show your thankfulness
For each borrowed breath and day?