For the last year, my husband and I have been systematically sorting through every closet, every drawer, and every space in our home. Why? I have been trying to fulfill a long-time promise to him to de-clutter and organize our home more efficiently. And that’s a hard task for a sentimental collector like myself. Inwardly, I objected as usual: “It’s a waste of good, creative time" ... “I’m not skilled at organizing” ... “It’s too hard to decide what stays and what goes” ... “I just don’t have time to do it” ... “When would I write?”

But love has a way of breaking down your defenses, and God has a way of reminding you of your promises. So I put other things on hold and began the task. When we decided to redecorate in the process that sparked a creative surge. Still, there were times when I wanted to give up. The task seemed endless. We finally struck a compromise: I would weed out, if my husband would reorganize what was left. Voila! This time our garage sale was so huge, our neighbor left a message on our phone saying, “You’re not moving, are you?” After staring at those merchandise-filled tables for two days, I wondered why I ever kept that baggage in the first place.

The house is almost finished -- both the redecorating and the organizing. And through this process God taught me something -- many things, in fact. What started out as a huge, dreaded burden ended up a fantastic blessing. I can find things in record time. I have a new admiration for my husband, and he thinks he got a new wife! The house has a fresh look -- and God gave me a new confidence. Not to mention all the stories that evolved during that time!

God's blessings come in all shapes and sizes. He loves to bless His people! But after a closer look in the Bible, I discovered many blessings I had never thought about -- like getting rid of “stuff” -- excess baggage that interferes with our intimacy with Him and His peaceful presence in our lives. In fact, I found that knowing God more intimately is one of the best blessings of all.

At Thanksgiving, what better time to think through and appreciate the "unexpected" blessings God shows us. Here are just a few:

  • If you've ever experienced God's hand of discipline, and you were allowed to see His reasons for doing so, you can never say, "I don't deserve that kind of treatment." Instead, you would thank your Father God for His protection and wisdom.
  • If you have struggled with an unchangeable defect or a menacing weakness, and felt God's power in the midst of it, you understand the blessing of God's overcoming strength being made perfect through you.
  • If you've come near to losing someone who is precious to you, you will thank God for His mercy, for second chances and the gift of time. You will treasure each day and each memory -- and you will love more deeply.
  • If you've ever observed the awesome handiwork of God in nature and basked in the beauty and wonder of His creation, you cannot help but praise Him profusely.
  • If you have lost a loved one, experienced deep grief and the pain of loneliness, and felt God's arms around you, then you understand the pain and the magnitude of Christ's sacrifice for you -- and you will thank God for His tender and compassionate comfort.
  • If you have ever broken God's heart through sin (and we all have), then you can never say to God, "I deserve more." Instead, you will thank God for His infinite love -- and for the hunger to know Him deeply, and cry out to Him, "God, You deserve more!"
  • If you have survived a near accident, pulled through a crushing blow, or felt His peace in the midst of a storm, you are eternally grateful for your Master Potter, and for the Blessed Controller who is shaping you into His image and who values you as His child.
  • If you have ever asked God for something, and received God's "No," but then He answered with something far better than you could ever have hoped or imagined, then you will thank God that He works all things out for your good -- and that His ways are not your ways.

That's only the beginning, but you get the idea. And it really doesn't matter if you live in another country where Thanksgiving is not a national holiday like it is in America. We all forget. That why I love to remind others -- and myself -- that we are indeed a most blessed people. That's why my heart wells up with gratitude daily, yes, thanking God for His blessings, but with a pleading, "Oh God. Please! How can I bless you?" I pray that instead of offering a word of thanks this year, we will give Him more. Instead of thanksgiving, may we pledge to Him our "thanksliving."

© 2006 Rebecca Barlow Jordan

Rebecca Barlow Jordan is the best-selling author of Daily in Your Presence (featured among Crosswalk.com's Daily Devotional offerings), and the new 40-day devotional series: 40 Days in God’s Presence and 40 Days in God’s Blessing. You can e-mail her at rebeccaj@pulse.net, or for more information, see her website at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.

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