The wind tousles the trees. Shadows sway on the lawn, and all is infused with the coming of autumn. My heart infused with thanks. Thanks for our small garden with red ripe tomatoes. Thanks for the golden hill just beyond our house that I want to run in like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. Thanks for whispers of change in slanted morning light.
At the beginning of summer I felt discontent in my home – so much so, that I thought I needed to move in order to get away from all the shadows in my heart. A neighborhood in a new town sounded ideal. I was tired of being tucked in the trees, away from civilization. I’m sure some of the post-pregnancy hormones played a part in my misery, so that one day I cried an extreme prayer, “Lord, if I live here any longer I’m going to die.”
Later, on my way to pick up the kids from VBS, I listened to a podcast in which the preacher shared a quote by John Knox, the great Scottish reformer, who prayed, “Lord, give me Scotland or I die!”
The Lord replied in his heart, “First die, then I’ll give you Scotland.”
At a red light, I grappled for my ipod and hit pause, allowing the words to settle in my spirit. I didn’t feel them deep inside. I didn’t sense God saying anything loudly. I just knew I’d prayed a similar prayer – except mine was very unspiritual.
And as I thought upon the words of John Knox, I knew the Lord had answered me – not by changing my circumstances, but by showing me to surrender my desire to Him. To choose gratitude, and He’d restore my joy.
Maybe I thought it couldn’t happen in this house, but He was saying it could.
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
And this picking up our cross is daily. A daily laying down our lives and our wants – but it’s here in the dying to self, where freedom is lived and enjoyed.
Choosing gratitude in the midst of what I don’t want is a sacrifice.
The Psalmist offered the “sacrifice of thanksgiving,” (Psalm 116:17).
Maybe it seems small and trivial, but the Holy Spirit showed me my need- which was death to self- and then, empowered me to act.
I didn’t feel an instantaneous change, but it came. The reward of joy here on earth and one day, I’ll see the eternal reward in heaven.
And so today, as I listen to the wind, and feel the breeze of autumn’s coming, I welcome change. Not in circumstances, but in my heart.
And my spirit is alive.