|Valentine’s Day was this week. I had a thought that had never occurred to me before. I realized God wants to be my Valentine? Instead of a gift or flowers, He sent His Son to show me His love. Like the gifts or cards I received from loved ones, I can’t enjoy what God offers unless I accept them|
Revelation 3:20 says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” An unopened gift in someone’s hand communicates this same concept. Like Monty Hall used to say on Let’s make a Deal, “You can’t know what is there until you look inside” What I am trying to unwrap here (pardon the pun) is similar to what I wrote about a month ago. https://thankfulinallthings.com/is-there-a-veil-keeping-you-from-seeing-life-from-gods-perspective/
God loves you so much and is offering you an abundant life. https://www.biblehub.com/john/10-10.htm He Loves you and wants to be your Valentine; The One you choose to love.
Like Monty Hall used to say on Let’s make a Deal, “You can’t know what is behind Curtain #3 without trading what you have to me.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKNuweTpgvU The problem with the game is you might be hoping for a car but instead you get a goat eating some hay. The good news is that is not how it works with God. Yes, you need to trade (surrender) what you have to Him but there is only an abundant and purpose filled life that comes with that trade.
God wants to be your Valentine not just on February 14th but every day and in every moment. He wants you to choose Him as the one to love. Open the card (Bible) and read how He loves you and wants the very best for you. Open your heart and accept the gift that only He can give. The gift of His Son Jesus who came so His Father’s joy may be in you and that your joy and life may be made complete. John 15:11
Won’t you say yes to God’s request to Be your Valentine? He is knocking on the door of your heart. Waiting with a gift in His outstretched hands. When you do, you become a fellow heir of the grace of life, allowing your prayers to not be hindered. Once you become His Valentine, you will find yourself wanting to share the gift He has given with everyone around you because everyone needs this type of love, God is the only one who can love you perfectly. When you have a relationship with God and experience His love, it empowers you to love others in the same way God loves you. What more can you ask for a Valentine’s Day wish? 🙂
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Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The four candles of Advent represent Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love. This morning the center candle is lit reminding us that Christ came to be the light of the world. For unto to us a child is born. Sure we need to give Santa his due but today we celebrate that the waiting is over and Hope is here! As dark as the world might seem, a light shines beckoning us forward. Stop for a moment and think of the darkest place you have ever been. It is so dark there that you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. Now imagine you have a pin light on your key chain. No how small that light, it breaks through the pitch black. No matter how dark, the least glimmer of light diminishes the darkness. This is what God through His son, Jesus, wants us to know.
The prophet Isaiah predicting the birth of Jesus. Matthew https://biblehub.com/niv/matthew/4-16.htm shared that the people were living in darkness meaning they had chosen to live in a way outside of God’s intention. CS Lewis stated it this way in his book Weight of Glory, Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
Maybe a faith journey is something you can’t imagine. It just doesn’t make sense. Tim Keller writes in Hidden Christmas, “Until you turn the light on in a dark room, you can’t begin to know what is in there.” I pray this Christmas that we would seek God’s Wisdom versus the world’s. May we all, like the Wise Men, seek to find and bow down before the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The One who came so that we would know that God loves us. It is the greatest gift of all and unlike worldly presents, it will never perish. So, “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth below; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and its people will die like gnats. But My salvation will last forever, and My righteousness will never fail” Isaiah 51:6
As the old campfire song promises; It only takes a spark to get a fire going. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tadZ8nCLBsI “Once you experience it, the light will show you all you were meant to know and provide the wisdom you seek. Only then will you live the life God desires for you.
Merry Christmas from all of us. May this blog help you remember the “Reason for the Season”. I can be reached by email at [email protected]
|Little did I know how timely my blog post would be when I posted it last Saturday. https://thankfulinallthings.com/when-the-storms-of-adversity-come-is-your-life-on-a-firm-foundation/ Tragedy hit suddenly on Sunday when a fellow student shot and killed three members of the UVA football team and injured another football player and a manager of the track team. https://blog.uvahealth.com/2022/11/17/tragedy-at-uva/ This event pushed forward the need for Having a firm foundation when adversity comes our way. |
Someone I know wrote me after we received an email where the sender used the words, “We’re so grateful and Be encouraged” He raised the question how can someone write these words after such a horrific act took place? I have thought a lot about that question and waited until after the memorial service for these 3 fine young men to try and put my answer into words.
Two comments that were made by UVA football coach, Tony Elliott, shed some light on why we can be grateful and encouraged.
First, this tragedy will be turned into triumph. Psalms 30:5 reminds us, “Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” He went on to say, “we may not know how long the night will last but just like the morning our joy will return. Lavell, D’Sean, and Devin would want it that way. Several teammates spoke and time and time again they shared how grateful they were to have had these guys in their lives and that they would carry them in their hearts forever. The second comment he made was “doing hard stuff brings people together.” We can be encouraged and find how to be thankful in all things when we are reminded that adversity bring Unity. This was evident around the country. In solidarity, former coaches wore UVA gear as they coached for their current teams. https://twitter.com/CoachAtuaia/status/1593429347649699842?s=20&t=UaNbcTLtULl4UPeH8lskNQ Schools shined blue and orange on their buildings. UVA and Baylor basketball teams met at mid-court to pray after their game Friday night. Baylor also wrote notes to their opponents http://bit.ly/uvaandbaylorprayaftergame
How do we find gratitude and encouragement in the midst of sadness and loss? By having a firm foundation that comes from having confidence and hope in the promised word of God as revealed to you. It is taking God at His words knowing that He is too faithful to fail, and will never go back on His promises. Promises like Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” There was no doubt yesterday that the families of Lavel, Devin, and D’Sean and those who spoke had that confidence and hope.I believe they left the service yesterday with sadness but grateful to the Lord for the encouragement they have received. They understand their hope is not in this world but in the world to come promising them that yes, they will see their loved ones again.
I hope you have been encouraged by what I have written this week. I can be reached by email at [email protected] For those interested, here is a link to the entire memorial service. I think it is well worth watching https://youtu.be/HkUYAmu5-hA
My Friday morning men’s group is reading through Henri Nouwen’s book, ”Our Greatest Gift”. He writes about learning how to die and how we are to best care for those who are dying. our conversation reminded my of Tim McGraw’s song, Live like you were dying https://youtu.be/_9TShlMkQnc
He sings ”I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”
Like the song says, If we were to live like we are dying, our perspectives would most certainly change. i am sure most of us would be much more intentional in how we spent our time and yes, find ways to be Thankful in all Things!
Guillain Barre Syndrome https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/guillain-barre-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20362793 did this for me. Although I never thought I was going to die (some around me thought so ?) my life changed forever because of my bout with this disease. As Nouwen writes in his book, it brought be face to face with my mortality. I had very rarely been sick and then suddenly I was paralyzed from my head down looking at being on a ventilator if my lungs shut down. ** In no way do I want to have that experience again but in that moment, I have never felt closer to God. He met me in that place and as a friend said recently, ”when I reached for God I realized He already had a hold on me like the poem Footprints in the Sand”.
I also was never more appreciative of my friends and family as they rose up to care for me and Dottie. When I get discouraged or my day isn’t going well, I conjur back to almost three years ago where I am reminded of how blessed I am today and feel fortunate to have had that experience. I am a better man having gone through it. I love deeper “I try to speak sweeter. I look for His promises in the Good Book.” Yes, as Tim McGraw’s continues, my wish for you is:
Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
Like tomorrow was a gift
And you’ve got eternity
To think about
What you’d do with it
What could you do with it
What did I do with it?
What would I do with it?
Yesterday is past, tomorrow is not guaranteed, today is a gift. That is why it is call a present ? Please subscribe the blog so you can receive email notifications when new content is posted. I can be reached by email at [email protected] PS. **If you don’t know my GBS story you can visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaelguthrie
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” – Ecclesiastes 7:14
You might ask why I would begin this post with such a sober verse from the Bible? Last week I challenged everyone to make the word gratitude a verb. https://thankfulinallthings.com/make-the-word-gratitude-a-verb-this-week/ My goal was to have you see pouring out your gratitude on others not only encourages you, it makes the recipient experience gratitude as well. It is about giving to grow and growing to give. Here is an interesting family resource https://giveaswegrow.org/ So what does this have to do with who is in your inner circle?
It has been two years since I have been with my extended family. All but one of my brothers and sisters and their families came together for Thanksgiving. My son and his wife generously opened their home to make it happen. As I looked around the island before offering the blessing, I was touched by the magnitude of us being in the same room. Sure, Covid, but more than that, serious sickness, accidents, and yes, even disagreements, could have caused us not to be giving thanks together. The only family group missing was because the newest member of the Guthrie Clan entered the world a little over a week ago. Dad and Mom honored by Reiley Jane being both of their middle names.
That scene of 26 and the 8 from Richmond missing but present in our hearts filled my heart with gratitude. It made me realize once again, you need a tribe around you to remain thankful in all things whether “in good times or in bad.” I am grateful for my group of people but your tribe does not have to be as large or even family. It is about finding folks who you can truly trust. Who are going to love you no matter what. Life is not to be lived alone. Dr. Margaret Paul says it this way. “We are not meant to live alone. We are meant to live in caring communities with people to turn to for love and connection, and for help when we need it. Love, connection and support are vital for our health and wellbeing.” Even Jesus sent the disciples out into the world in pairs. Matthew 10.
The first step is yours. Choose who it is you want walking along side you. It may be starting a new relationship or repairing one that has gone astray. If you are side ways with someone, use this season of advent to reach out with a willingness to start anew. If you are alone, reach out to others. You will find people who will welcome you into their world. If you are blessed to have others in your life, take a look around and invite others in who are in need of friendship.
I will close with this example. A widow lamented on social media that she had no desire to put up her Christmas decorations. Another widow saw the post and offered to help because it gave her a distraction form her recent loss. What an amazing example of how serving others can indeed lift us up out of our own dismay. On this first Sunday of Advent, Prepare your heart answering this question from Mother Teresa. “At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by finding, loving and serving others with God’s own love and concern.”
My hope in these uncertain times that these two now versus then videos will bring a smile to your face.
Dottie and I are doing our best to navigate this thing they call self-isolation. These pictures represent the view from my Rapunzel tower above the garage and still supporting businesses by getting our curbside lunch from our friends at Chick-fil-a
We remain Thankful in All Things but most especially our great God who knows all and each one of you are following our journey through yet another season of adversity. “Take courage all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit abides among you; fear not.” Haggai: 2:4a – 5.
There has been so much written about the Mountaintop and Valley experiences of life. There are many devotionals and books written that talk about “the need for the mountain top exhilaration so that we are able to navigate the many valleys that come our way in our day to day lives” I found this to be especially true both at the outset of my Guillain Barre and now in my recovery from this crazy auto-immune system disorder. It was 16 days before I saw any significant movement anywhere on my otherwise motionless body. The doctors and nurses all said I was improving but there was not any clear signs of that progress. I certainly was glad the progression had stopped short of my diaphram as I had no interest in being incubated. Once the diagnosis was made, I started Plasmapheresis (plasma exchange) on March 3rd. I was told some parts of me would start moving a bit between the 3rd and 4th of 5 treatments which were every other day. The last one occured on March 11th with no such signs. I was discharged to a rehab facility from the hospital on March 13th. “How could this be happening”, we asked. The answer was you are getting better and there is nothing else we can do to help you at this point. Just like walking on a plateau, you travel a distance and feel like you have not really made much progress. This was certainly true for me. It is easy to get discouraged when you hit a stabilized point in recovery. In one sense, you are relieved that you are not getting worse but you find yourself fighting the advice to be patient, “you are and will get better”. Trusting and putting my hope in the Lord along with leaning on and appreciating those who were cheering me on got me through those days and kept me from the fear of thinking, “what if I don’t get better?” On March 17th (St Patrick’s Day), my arms moved over my head. I am not sure what made me think they would, all of a sudden, there they were. I even scratched my head as I lowered them.
Things took off from there. My body started waking up and the recovery process was nothing short of miraculous. When I was admitted to the rehab facility, they noted in their records that they expected me to be there until the end of June and leave using a walker. Praise God. I went home on April 25 with the assistance of a cane. Within a couple of weeks I was walking in the neighborhood.
I have continued to recover over these last 8 months. The doctors and physical therapists say I am at about 80%. Given that the data shows it takes 6 months to 2 years, this is pretty good progress 🙂 and yet, I feel like I have now reached a new plateau. My weight loss has slowed and I still need to rest in the middle of the day and call it a day early in the evening. I can get discouraged but thankfully my positive can do attitude, the support and encouragement of family and friends, the prayers of so many being answered and substantiating my faith in a healing God keeps me going. Like on any journey, I just need to look back to where I started to see how far I have come to be reminded that I am indeed blessed. It allows me to know that I will once again move upward toward the next plateau.