Monday, June 27, 2011

thankful - note 1 of 50

a friend of mine recently decided to commemorate her 50th birthday by writing 50 'thank you' notes to God, and when her invitation came to join in, i couldn't resist. intuitively, this seems like a good project for me. i have so much to be thankful for and think of myself as a thankful person, yet i've not really written about it in a sustained way. i doubt that i'll post all 50 notes online -- some things are best left between a person and God -- but i'll share the ones that seem appropriate, hopefully by number.

yesterday, after a protracted second battle with cancer, my friend w went home to be with the Lord. it is, perhaps, a strange place to begin a series of 'thank you' notes to God, as i have to admit that there is a bit of mystery and frustration for me surrounding her death. we had prayed (and occasionally fasted) for a long time, both individually and then corporately at lighthouse, where we just completed a 21-day 'season of prayer' on friday. and while i am confident that w is in a much better place -- where she can see Jesus face-to-face and worship him cancer-free, with dancing and leaping and singing, where the Lord himself wipes the tears from her eyes and where the long battle with cancer can finally recede into the background of a glorious new day that stretches limitlessly into the future -- it was not what i was praying for. not exactly, anyway.  at some later date, perhaps i'll write a reflection on how i sort out all of that. but today, i want to thank God for w's life. she was a tiny little thing, but big in prayer and in her impact on the lives of those around her. she will be missed by many, including me, but by none more than her husband d and daughter j.

one of the ways that God has leveraged this season of battling in prayer for w's life is to remind me to take stock of my own and to be proactive about my choices. at the end of w's life, it was a struggle for her to live and love each day. they were so filled with pain and struggle and unpleasant-but-seemingly-necessary tasks. she had no choice. but i do. and yet somehow, in the busyness of life, i find myself just trying to get through each week, getting the necessary tasks done, instead of actually living. i don't consider the big picture of what God is trying to accomplish in and through my life, nor the hopes and dreams that reside in my heart, tucked away from public view -- and sometimes even my own. i don't take enough time with the people i love, and i fritter away my discretionary time on interesting distractions (e.g. posting and discussing articles and issues on facebook) rather than taking on some bigger projects. perhaps more on that last to come...

i met yesterday with a couple of friends with whom i share and pray occasionally, and we talked some about what stephen covey famously called the 'big rocks' (the video at that link is hilarious -- and instructive). i'm not an uncritical admirer of covey, but he got this part right: if we don't get the important things in first, some of them are sure to be crowded out by lesser things.

i am grateful for the reminder that this life is not all we have, but also that this life is a gift. thank you, Father, for the encouragement to live it well. and teach me to number my days, that i may apply my heart unto wisdom (psalm 90:12).


Sally said...

Amen to that! I'm not 50, but I can already identify with what you said in the 2nd half of paragraph 3. I think it's so important to try to see the big picture - but so hard at the same time, and so often hindered by the seemingly necessary tasks of everyday.

Thanks for reminding me to work on that, too.

gr8god said...

thanks for your note, sally. i imagine that being a physician increases the level of difficulty on this (seeing the big picture) because the little picture (your tasks for today) are often urgent and in some cases, carry the weight of life and death. all the more need to learn the discipline of intentionally taking a step back to allow God to give perspective.