Friday, November 27, 2009

Where is the Thanks in Giving and giving thanks?

I am sitting here a day after thanks giving thinking about where was I a year ago and how did I spend my Thanksgiving.

Yesterday, I spent it alone not by choice of course, but I live in Thailand and it's not a holiday here. The only American family I know left for the holidays, so no invites. So I mostly worked out, watched t.v. and read. Then for my meal I bought a can of tuna and some bread, gave thanks and had my "feast". I ate two sandwiches, and thought about leaving the rest for tomorrow. But I thought to my self that I would normally over eat at home, and gave my self permission to eat it. Given my recent financial squeeze and the circumstance, it was one of the best tuna sandwiches I ever had.

I looked into my Journal entry of last year Thanksgiving and was curious as to what I had written down to be thankful for. 11-24-08 Being alive. Being loved. Having clothes. Having food. Having a bed to sleep in. Call it being simple, or spiritual but I truly am thankful of those things. A little context behind my life up until that journal entry. August of last year I was homeless. Not in the normal way. My friend Mike and I decided to go along the Midwest sharing the vision of the ministry we were hoping to start. No car and no money. Hitch hiking a third of the trip, we would travel over 3,000 miles, visit 10 states, speak in over 10 churches, spend 37 days on the road and spend zero dollars on the whole trip. The thing I remember the most was the feeling of being homeless. The cops harassed us, people were afraid of us, people cursed us, looked at us with hate, even the church didn't help us out! All I kept thinking was about how a homeless person must feel having to deal with this. I left with more of appreciation for things things I have and better understanding of why people go to extremes to survive.

The most stressing thing on the lower class Thais is money problems. Sounds familiar. I didn't grow up with it all, but lower class American is not the same as lower class Thai. I understand a lot of their situations. I can identify with the hurt, and the things people do to get out or forget about life. This little money problem I have now is small compared with what a single mother here has to deal with. Sure I have to ration a loaf of bread, tuna and stressing about how I am gonna get a can of oatmeal to last till the end of the month but what if I had a child or two? What if your boyfriend was only good for sleeping around and beating on you? There is no ware fair check, or wic here. Jobs are scarce. the common job places you in a factory working 12 hour shifts for less than 10 dollars for the day. The poor get little to no help. And if there is it's not being advertised.

My question to my self is, Am I thankful in giving, or am I just thankful for what I get? Thanksgiving places me in worship of God in remembering what he has done for me. But I am further challenged to give with equal passion. I am a fan of James 1:27, Matthew 5:23, Proverbs 14:31, Isaiah 1:17, and my other verses that point to the fact that God has a heart for those who seem to have nothing. I am selfish in my everyday life out side of God. Have you ever heard anyone say, "I am so thankful to give." I want to give, and take the time to understand those who have nothing, and do the most hateful things to each other just to survive. AM I above them? I say no, because being a village girl, with no education, haven been raped, abused, left as someones piece of property, with two children is not reality for most of us. An inner city youth gun tucked in his jeans selling nicks and dimes on the corner, whose mom is a crack head, dad is locked up leaving him with baby sis to take care of with no hesitation to kill if someone tries to take his spot, because we don't wake up in his shoes. We don't and won't understand the lowest of lows until we put on the heart of God, and see things with Jesus' eyes and understand where they are coming from. I would rather offer life to these people than to judge it.

I believe God is thankful to give to his children. I want the Lord's heart in this action. I think to be truly thankful is to give like Jesus. Interesting something Jim Larson pointed out in one of his recent blogs. If you look at James 1:27 the part that says, "to visit orphans and widows in their distress, {and} to keep oneself unstained by the world." The word "And" is not found in the NASB, KJV, NKJV, DBY. That changes the verse a little bit don't it?

The truth offends because it's the truth.