Thank you, Lord!
When I was growing up, my parents were often asked to share their testimonies at men's meetings or at lady’s luncheons. At these meetings and luncheons, Dad and Mom usually asked me to sing a song before they would speak. I'm not sure how this all started, but they made for some beautiful memories. I loved travelling with my parents and being a part of their ministry. I heard my parent’s testimony so many times, I could almost quote sections word-for-word. Both of my parents became Christians because of a Campus Crusade for Christ (now called CRU) event at our Lutheran church. My parents were the adult leaders for the College and Career group at our church and hosted the event. My parents had religious upbringings, but didn't know Jesus as their personal Savior until that ministry event.
I smiled as my parents shared their testimony. Then, and today, I could testify that their words were true because in their lives I witnessed redemption up close and personal. I watched the transforming power of God work through every aspect of my parent’s lives. I am thankful that I had a front row seat to my parent’s testimonies. I am also so very thankful for the way God’s love has positively impacted my life! So, when I started to write this week's post on thankfulness, an old song from those days kept popping into my mind.
I remember the routine of the events well. I would be sitting by my Mom enjoying lunch; you know the kind … chicken salad, fruit and a buttery croissant. After lunch, the host of the event would stand up and introduce my Mom. Mom would then say something to the effect that before she would speak, she wanted me to sing a special song. I would walk up to the microphone, deposit a cassette tape into the player, push play, and my orchestra would begin. I don't even know if they still have accompaniment tapes anymore, but they were the bomb! Gotta love the '70's! Now I wasn't any great singer, but I loved Jesus with my whole heart and wanted to be used for His purpose – even in this very small way. The song I often sang and have been humming all week is, “Thank you, Lord,” by Dan Burgess (1972). It was his first published song; I hope the words of that old song bless your heart now:
Thank you, Lord
For the trials that come my way
In that way I can grow each day
As I let you lead.
and I thank you Lord
For the patience those trials bring
In the process of growing
I can learn to care.
But it goes against the way I am
To put my human nature down
And let the spirit take control of all I do
'Cause when those trials come
My human nature shouts the things to do
And God's soft prompting can be easily ignored.
That song was a perfect prelude to my parent's testimony about their own trials and pursuit of Jesus. At the time I sang this sweet song, I had not yet walked through any great trials – I was a child. But the words of that song became buried deep in my heart where they would help prepare me for my own journey. These words are echoed from Romans 3: 3-5: "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." I am thankful that I walked through life's struggles with these words ringing in my ears and resonating in my spirit. These words of God's faithfulness, and of His promise to take care of me, are my hope, comfort and stability. These words acknowledge that life is hard, but give the solution to life: God is faithful! Living out the Gospel in your marriage is hard. It requires your total dependence on your faithful heavenly Father so that your human nature doesn't dictate your steps. Marriage is where the rubber meets the road, in terms of the Gospel. We know our spouses and they know us. To love someone unconditionally, even when they are undeserving or imperfect, is exactly what God did for us by sending us His son as our Savior. We did not deserve this gift of salvation and love, yet it is by grace that we received it. By living in a state of selfless love you are demonstrating the truest representation of the Gospel I can imagine! And when this is present in your marriage, it will cast a light so bright that all the world will see (Philippians 2:14-16)! Your family will be changed, your community reached and your life's mission realized. Faithful reader, please know these truths. Meditate on them and allow the Holy Spirit to apply them to your life. Join me in thanking God for His faithfulness as you walk through the tough seasons of your marriage. Allow His spirit, through the word, to wash over you and wash away all nagging concerns. Love your spouse unconditionally. Practice forgiveness and repentance daily. Chase after God together. Our life on this earth is only for a fleeting moment, but our life with Him in heaven is for eternity!
I am thankful for each of you and for this opportunity each week to encourage you in your pursuit of a Word washed life and a Godly marriage. Spend some time on your knees thanking God for His faithfulness this holiday season! Keep reading, friends!
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 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.