Friday, March 29, 2013

Five Things I'm Thankful For Friday

Yea, once Immanuel’s orphaned cry His universe hath shaken--
It went up single, echoless: ‘My God, I am forsaken!’ 

It went up from the Holy’s lips, amid His lost creation,
That of the lost, no son should use those words of desolation!”

~ excerpt, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Cowper's Grave

This week I'm thankful for:

1. Jesus dying on the cross.  Today Christians around the world are celebrating Good Friday.  We call it Good Friday because it is the day we celebrate Jesus dying on the cross.  Ironic isn't it?  That we celebrate the dying of a man we call our Savior and we call it good.  "Why is it good?" you ask.  It's because on the first Good Friday the holy God died to rescue people whose hearts were and are wicked.  Without his atoning death, I could not be reconciled to a holy God, whose very holiness demands justice.  "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

2. Two worship services this week.  In the Middle East, Friday is the holy day, and so church meets on Friday rather Sunday (which is the first day of the work week).  (P.S. It's really hard for me not to call Friday School Sunday School.)  So, we had our usual Friday gathering today- yay! and on Sunday morning at 5:30am (before the work day starts) we will gather on the beach for an Easter sunrise service.  This week I seem to be doubly blessed.

3. Christian community.  After church today, about 20 of us went out to lunch after church, and some of us lingered until 9pm.  After leaving that group, I joined other Christian friends.  And encouragingly, our conversation was peppered with what the Lord has done in our lives and how good He is.  I find it ironic that I come from a so-called Christian nation, and I have to travel to the Middle East to find the most vibrant Christian community I have ever known.  I love them, and I feel loved by them.

4. The conviction that God has plans for me.  Being in Dubai has been a bit of struggle financially because I'm finding that the work environment has changed a lot since last I was here.  So far, this venture in my coming here has lost me money.  And yet, I do not despair, because I am convinced that He has me here for other purposes than my job.  God has brought me here to bring me back to Him and to bring me into Christian fellowship.  (This makes sense, as well, when I think how my prayers over the last months have always been, "Lord, draw me closer to You.")  For this, I thank Him.

5. The two families I am surrounded by.  I said this last week, but it bears repeating.  I.Am.So.Thankful that in God's infinite mercy he has placed me exactly where I am.  Years ago, when I was alone in Dubai, an American man said to me, "We are your family in the Middle East.  Rely on us shamelessly."  Surprisingly, because I come from a world where people don't mean what they say and don't say what they mean, he meant it.  I can't for the life of me understand why complete strangers love me, but I am deeply touched and moved beyond words.  It is this love that points to a God that I also can't understand why He loves me, but I humbled and am thankful.  "The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.  But it was because the Lord loved you."   Deuteronomy 7:7-8

Do you know what He has done for you?  Do you know how much God loves you and desires for you to be close to Him?  I pray that you would turn away from the things which take you away from Him, and turn to the living God.  He is so beautiful, and He desires for you to know Him.  Turn away from your sin and be reconciled to God.  He is incredible, full of majesty and beauty.

Soli Deo Gloria


Anonymous said...

Praise The Lord! I'm excited that I get to share this message on Thursday night. Great post. :)

Anonymous said...

Such a lovely post. Have a happy and blessed Easter.


Anonymous said...

Looking through a varied selection of your blog posts over the years, my question to you is- "have you ever thought of writing a book for Christian women ( or indeed men ! ) ? You write beautifully and you have something to say.


elventryst said...

Oh, Jan, if only you knew how I struggle and get lost and look at other Christians and wonder how to increase my faith and grow closer to Him. I don't know how it looks from the outside-looking-in, but from the inside-looking-out, it looks like mess, with the only redeeming theme being a God who loves me in spite of myself. But thank you. I don't know you, but you've been an incredible encouragement to me.