Friday, March 9, 2018

What will be your first thoughts in the morning?

Years ago, I worked to deepen my relationship with God, but no matter how many prayers I recited, services I attended, volunteer works I performed, He seemed distant and untouchable.  The same routines that had formerly delivered a glimpse of His holy presence failed to create a stir.  In fact, the busier I got searching for Him, the more remote He seemed. 

Then I needed to put my life on hold to undergo minor surgery. Days later, I expected to return to normal routines, but medical complications dictated extended bed rest.  Instead, I spent the day feeling isolated, devalued and frustrated.

Finally, I picked up my copy of a book called “Divine Embrace” by Ken Gire.  I flipped to a page where the author addresses a spiritually dry period in his life, a time when he, too, was searching for a deeper relationship with God and found only stillness.  

In hindsight, he reflects, “God had indeed been silent.  But silent in the way an artist at work is silent.  He had been quietly at work in me, forming Christ in me.” 

With that thought, I relaxed. Maybe silence was okay.

That same night I dreamed I was walking on the beach at sunset with a revered priest from our parish.  Hot pink streaks scored the darkening sky.  We reached the far end of the building where he planned to head inside for the evening, and he turned to me and asked, “What will be your first thoughts when you awake in the morning?” 

At first, I drew a blank.  Then I blurted, “I will thank God for the gift of another day.”  

Even in my dream, my response startled me.  I had been anything but thankful for the day I just had been given.

The priest smiled and disappeared, but an overpowering joy filled me.  God seemed to whisper, “You understand...That’s all I want.”

The next morning, the sound of the alarm awakened me.  I slipped from the bedcovers and opened the blinds.  Hot pink streaks scored the early morning haze, causing me to suddenly remember my dream. As I thanked God for the gift of yet another day, I traded my frustration, anxiety and isolation for appreciation and acceptance of God’s matter what the day held or released.

And the joy never left my heart.

I love this song by Don Moen, Give Thanks, and it just seems to pair well with this story. Here's hoping you have a thankful day today, filled with unceasing joy!

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