Reading the faces of pilgrims wandering on the journey is a telling occupation. On one hand, we witness the living as we tread the path alongside each other; on the other, we become a voyeur of humanity adding details to the files we stash away. I learned the art of people watching from my grandmother. She had a way with people. She had a brave beauty like a mantle resting upon her. I always admired it while she lived and miss it deep now that she is gone. She spilled joy effortlessly, always emptying love upon on others. It was purely grace in motion.
Emptied grace always leads to abundant gratitude.
Through her study of people, she derived great joy in their unique differences. Oh, she made a person laugh deep, and each of these interactions became another grace moment in the life-story she shared with everyone. Her testimony became a tutorial of undiluted gratitude, because she poured out hope with her words; and like an unending spout of living water, people were the cups that caught the excess.
For all these things are taking place for your sake, so that the more grace extends to more and more people and multiplies through the many, the more thanksgiving may increase and redound to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15
Grace is an offering like this pouring, it is an emptying of the unique joy that spills out when we let it. Her laughter was like a spring rain on people, it brought a fresh breeze of hope. Now that she is not here to build up my walls, I am learning that the secret to thanksgiving is wholly in spilling myself out like she did… one big hot mess of happy. This is what beauty has begun to look like for me… beauty in the living life with gratefulness for the imperfections that make us just who we are.
When we choose to be people who deposit hope and spill out grace, we fill up on the gratitude of emptying self. It is a powerful principle that she found first in the example that Jesus set. Valuing others individuality, actually looking beyond the shell into their hearts and seeing a way to reach out, is a gift that can only come when we choose to look for the restoration that grace-giving provides. Rather than manipulating grace by performance of offering, we need to pause and consider the lesson of poverty and wealth where grace is concerned.
And God is able to make all grace abound towards you, so that you would have sufficiency in all things, and may about in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
Memories have a way of reaching deep in our hearts, especially during the special days we hang up to sparkle in time. Remembering forces us to not only look at the moment, the blink that passed, but our role in them. Holidays always make me think of legacies, lessons and loving well. For so many years as I saw myself in those memories, I thought I was just standing by keeping record of the actors. The introvert in me was comfortable keeping watch on the outside.
Yet, the more I spend time reading about the life of One who emptied Himself completely, the One who leads us to love deep and look hard for the beauty in others, I can see that we are not just bystanders. We are called to follow the example He has set in rich living. We are inspired, by example, to a life that empties the poverty of the world in exchange for the hope of grateful wonder. 2 Corinthians talks about people who emptied all of themselves for the gratitude of grace to be like Christ.
We want to tell you further, brethren, about the grace of God which has been evident in the churches of Macedonia [arousing in them the desire to give alms]; For in the midst of an ordeal of severe tribulation, their abundance of joy and their depth of poverty [together] have overflowed in wealth of lavish generosity on their part. For as I can bear witness, [they gave] according to their ability, yes ,, and beyond their ability; and [they did it] voluntarily. -2 Corinthians 8:1-3,(amp)
Christ set aside glory to come to a world that did not know gratefulness. He emptied Himself of His royal privileges, becoming poor so that we could become rich. (2 Cor. 8:9) Grace empties us of the privileges we think we deserve to provide hope for the unlovely wading in darkness. True gratitude comes when we recognize worth that is eternal because thankfulness and grace are connected.
November’s thankful journey becomes December’s awakening hope; a journey we take from the Table of Gratefulness right up to the Stable of Hope.
Thanksgiving is necessary to appreciate the advent of His coming. We need to remember to let ourselves be expended of the grace and gratitude that the pausing to reflect allows us to perform.
Don’t miss the power of spilling out grace, emptying gratefulness, in order to build up hope in this season of thanks.
I love the tradition of the turkey and the table loaded with all the typical foods the holiday is known for. Reading the story of the Pilgrims and Indians, and the struggle to give thanks when so much was lost in the risk. There is comfort in the sameness of yesterday’s memories with today’s experience because it makes missing those who have gone before us less difficult. Our hearts break with the loss of loved ones during this time, gratefulness may feel superficial when we are stuck in yesterday. Yet, spilling gratitude in the form of grace allows us to make tomorrow’s remembering a treasure,because emptied graces lead to grateful hopes.
Because life changes all the time, if we hold on to things that were only meant for the our passing, then we are creating sentimental idols which make it hard to be thankful for every blessing… even the hard and difficult blessings that trials bring, even the remembering and thanking God for the empty chair that once held a dear heart.
Since we are not made for this world, we need to remember that each day is a journey that takes us further from this life into the eternal one we are walking towards. Christ’s humility, His purposeful choosing to strip Himself of the majesty of heaven into the poverty of this world, was based on his hope for a ruined humanity. J I Packer says that this , “hope“, is for man’s pardon, for peace with God, and His glory revealed. The message of Christ’s birth is for the ruined soul longing for hope. He emptied Himself of all richness to clothe Himself in poverty for the hope of humanity.
“There is hope for a ruined humanity, – hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory – because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear.”
Thanksgiving is about HOPE. Thanksgiving is about Grateful Hope. Thanksgiving is about the power of being emptied to receive grace and share it with one another.
Those lessons my grandmother shared so many years ago, still exude in our holiday gathering, even though she is no longer here. I am learning to embrace the moment more than the memory and give thanks from joyful heart. To choose thankfulness… counting and recording it as I go…so that at the end of the day the spilling out is really just a building of grace.
Friends, when we are emptied of self, pouring into others for the sheer joy of being a living hope, we are building grace. We are the ones who have come poor and impoverished for our holding close, then made rich for the spilling forward of hope into the well of unending grace.
This is the mark of a grateful heart. This is the reflection of the spirit of Him who was sent as a babe but fully God incarnate. This is the reason we tread the path to the table and give thanks with bowed head and heart. This is the seed that leads us to sacred searching for the advent of His coming.
Living epistles, friends, are those who are spent on being poor in this world but rich in His mercy.
I am offering grace seeds today, to each heart that is needing a dose of gratitude and reminder to give thanks in all things. I am planting hope with you in prayer that all which is poured into you can generously be emptied into those He sends your way.
With gratefulness for you… Happy Thanksgiving!
With Advent approaching soon I am offering a gift of thanksgiving for you friends. A reminder of the path we take from the Thanksgiving table to the Stable of Hope with an Advent Journal to help you prepare your heart for the coming season of celebration. Journey to the Stable Advent Journal
You may find this post about the Thanksgiving Table from last year encouraging.
Linking up with friends for the Journey.
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