"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ash in the handbag

When the Israelites gave the offering... the dove, the grain, the sheep... to the priest to be offered, they watched it burn and then left the Temple. They didn't take it with them--- no ashes were carried away in their handbag! They offered a sacrifice of praise to the Lord and left it there. They left assured that their sins were forgiven, or that their guilt was taken by the "guilt offering". The "thank offering" given to us in the Old Testament was to be given in the same manner. They were to offer a sacrifice of "thanks" from a grateful heart.

Today when I offer my thanksgiving, I sometimes find myself hesitating and wanting to take it back. Right afterward, I want to grab a scoop and take some of the ashes back "home" with me. I don't think I am alone in this. What are we doing? We want to store it up somewhere for the next time. Just in case we aren't thankful tomorrow, we won't be ashamed of our offering today.

What do I mean? I mean, after fervently praying on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for my daughter to be healed of her fever... she was well on Tuesday afternoon. In fact, she was significantly better. I was grateful when I realized it. A "thank offering" of sorts was rising up in my heart. Thank you, Lord, I said. But, there was part of me that hesitated and questioned... was this just a coincidence, not a direct answer to my prayer? And another part of me doubted... well,... she could spike another ridiculously high fever tonight. And then, what?, my thanksgiving would have been wasted? Silly? Premature? Both questions and doubts diminished my ability to truly and freely offer thanksgiving to the Lord. At least, it dampened my ability to thank Him and leave my thanks on the altar. It is as if I want to offer my thanks and then grab it back just in case I am not thankful tomorrow--- say she does spike a fever, then I haven't offered my thanks in vain.

I have a dear sister who has a chronically ill son. What does healing look like for her? for him? I have watched her offer her thanks to God in the dark and in the moments of light. This has ministered to me more significantly than most sermons or books--- she has lived out faith in looking at each gift of health (mild or significant) as an opportunity for praise. Was he able to attend a full day of school today? ...yes?... A thank offering to the Lord!! Is he learning to write his name and to read those simple words this week... yes? ...A thank offering to the Lord!! Did he sleep through the night uninterrupted?... yes?!.. a thank offering to the Lord! She can't look too far ahead into tomorrow--- it may diminish any of her today-thanks, and that would be tragic for her heart and dishonoring the today-gifts from her Father.

Each day has enough trouble of its own... each day also has enough blessings of its own. Let us thank God for each day, each breath, and every blessing (our daily bread). Let's offer our "thank offering" for today and not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow has enough worry of its own. And, tomorrow will have enough praise of its own if we are looking for it! Might we offer our genuine sacrifice of thanks to the Lord and then leave it there, watch it burn and go about our day not carrying ashes in our handbag.

Father teach us to see your daily blessings! Teach me to be thankful for all good things and even all hard things, because you are good! Teach me to offer my gifts of thanks and to walk away, leaving it as a sweet aroma to you.
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