A “day-annual” of Thankful Living
I’m almost to the intersection of I-70 and 64, busily speaking an address into my phone for an appointment downtown in the city. I’m driving with my thoughts fixed on the day ahead—trying to get to the city and back before the traffic hits!! A large white passenger van catches my attention just up ahead. Written on the back of the van boldly stating in all cap lettering “PRISONER TRANSPORT” “KEEP BACK 500 FT.” Suddenly my mind races with thoughts of those inside that van. Are they male or female? Is this their first time in prison? Is this their final ride in a vehicle, going to a place from which they may never return? Can they see me as I pass? Are they looking at the fall leaves for the last time? What did they do to end up here? Do they know Jesus? What will happen to them tonight—their first night behind bars? You know how the mind works . . . on and on the questions and scenarios play out in the mind. My heart aches.
So, I begin to pray—asking God that there might be someone in the prison system who would point him or her to His Grace, that He would keep them safe, and that there might be hope in their hopeless circumstance. Please don’t get me wrong—I’m certain sin, choices, and brokenness have landed them in this situation and under the rule of law, crime always carries a consequence as it should. But . . . as long as there is breath, there is hope! Maybe my heart is more sensitive to the forgotten ones these days. My world knows nothing of theirs, and I am both thankful and ashamed.
As I ponder Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think of Ella, our youngest daughter. Last Christmas, we gave her a trampoline, the very item she had desired to receive for years!! Finally, we caved and purchased the monstrosity!! Finding a warm day in the middle of winter, we went to work piecing it together. And, would you know that every day, EVERY DAY since that trampoline has been put together, Ella has used it to complete at least two somersaults!! Every day—rain, snow, sunshine—it doesn’t matter, she has committed herself to completing two “landed” somersaults!! She began calling it her “annual” until we corrected her by saying, “babe, annual means yearly.” Now, she jokingly and affectionately calls it her “day-annual.” These are the things that make a mother’s heart laugh with joy—to see a child in sweet activity and innocence, and to see her commit herself to a discipline, a “day-annual!” It makes me think of Thanksgiving and how thankfulness must be a discipline or we may forget.
And, my mind goes back to the prisoners, those whose lives are broken, living in a broken place, a broken system. I think of the nameless, faceless people at the grocery store, I think of my own children, my nieces and nephews and how really when it gets right down to it—I don’t want anyone to spend an eternity alone without God, void of the GOODNESS of GOD. And, I wonder where our hope is in this day and age? I know the answer, it’s God’s WORD—full of hope for the criminal, full of hope for the broken, and full of hope for me.
I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You; (not my circumstances)
I will sing praise to Your name O Most High.
When my enemies turn back,
They shall fall and perish at Your presence.
For You have maintained my right and my cause;
You sat on the throne judging in righteousness.
You have rebuked the nations,
You have destroyed the wicked;
You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
O enemy, destructions are finished forever!
And you have destroyed cities;
Even their memory has perished.
But the LORD shall endure forever;
He has prepared His throne for judgment.
And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble.
And those who know Your name
Will put their trust in You;
For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.
Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion!
Declare His deeds among the people.
When He avenges blood, He remembers them;
He does not forget the cry of the humble.
Have mercy on me, O LORD!
Consider my trouble from those who hate me,
You who lift me up from the gates of death,
That I may tell of all Your praise.
In the gates of the daughter of Zion.
I will rejoice in Your salvation.
The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made;
In the net which they hid, their own foot is caught.
The LORD is known by the judgment He executes;
The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.
The wicked shall be turned into hell,
And all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten;
The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.
Arise O LORD,
Do not let man prevail;
Let the nations be judged in Your sight.
Put them in fear, O LORD,
That the nations may know themselves to be but men. Psalm 9
Let’s have a “day-annual” of praise, a discipline of thankfulness, and remember that this life in all its brokenness is not without hope. Praise God for salvation in Christ, refuge in circumstances, trust that God’s judgments are right, and remember we do not need to fear when we trust Him with this life. We are not forsaken! We are not forgotten! We are remembered!
He is always Just,
He is always Right,
He is always Present,
He is always Good.
A “day-annual” of praise will keep us humbly on our knees for the broken, the poor, the least, the person next to you begrudgingly waiting in the checkout line at Wal-mart. Have a “day-annual” of constant communication with the ONE who can change the world in which we live. This is what will change our lives and the lives of those around us.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.