Happy belated Thanksgiving!
Ours was wonderful (!), and 3/5ths of our family gathered together to celebrate the abundance of blessings God has poured out on us this year.
Those blessings far exceed the hard times...
That's why a season set apart to give thanks was a great idea (thank you, George Washington).
From little to big, there is much for which to be grateful.
(Bay and I even played in a family pickleball tournament, and did OK, considering we had never touched a racket).
Right before the holiday, I began studying the full and generous heart of God toward His children.
He promises us "life to the full...more than abundant!"
And, just to remind you, the giving of thanks is the start to experiencing this fulness, in spite of our circumstances.
Of course, John 10:10 tells us we have a thief that wants to steal away our "life" (our zeal, enthusiasm, bounce, sparkle...the attitude with which we approach each day).
On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I met with my online bible study and we discussed this passage.
I asked them "who is the thief?"
Of course, the obvious answer is our mega-enemy, the devil, Satan.
However, the ladies had other answers....it's ANYTHING that takes away our hope, our joy, and our peace.
AND...we have to look at the verse in context (John 10:1-11):
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd.
All the highlighted and underlined parts, I added.
These are some of Jesus' key points...
Followers of the good-shepherd listen for His voice.
They learn to ignore the voice of the would-be-thieves.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, the sheep don't always spend enough time with the shepherd to know His voice, and the voice of the hope-joy-peace-robbers can be just (!) so (!) very (!) winsome (!).
Winsome, kind, compassionate to begin with, then all of a sudden, those voices can trap us, and before we know it, we're on the losing side.
I'll never forget the little red dune buggy Bay owned when we first got married.
It was adorable, and great for zipping all over Phoenix and it made a great little quail hunting vehicle in the dessert.
One morning, he got up to head to basketball practice at the GCU gym, walked out to the covered space where we kept it at our apartment, only to find it GONE!
During the night, someone stole it right out from our personal space.
And, that's exactly how this violation felt....so very, very personal.
The life-thief comes to do even more damage....and, it is even more Oh! So! Personal!
Steal our hope - yes!
Kill our joy - for sure!
Annihilate our peace, so there is nothing left - that, too!
Then, when all is said and done, we wonder why God seems to have hidden His face from us?
And...little by little, our faith begins to leak away...
What can we do?
Start by learning the voice of our shepherd.
Spend enough time with Him in order to do know His whispers above all other voices.
Today, that's what I'm contemplating!
What voices do I listen to that are keeping me from "life to the full?"