“God moves in a mysterious way, His mercies to perform. . .” is the title and first line of a hymn written by William Cowper (1731-1800) in 1774. Believers in God’s works, omnipotence, grace, and pure, undeserved mercy apprehend well the truth published in this line.
My husband and I spent a couple of hours in our County’s jail on Thanksgiving, as we did last year, helping to serve a Thanksgiving dinner to more than 50 trusted inmates. Jail inmates prepared part of the meal, and the Prosecutor’s office received funding for the food. My husband, a county public defender, and I were among those serving the well-cooked, attractive meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberries, etc. The inmates were cheerful and cordial.
Witnessing the inmates’ conviviality gave me pause for gratitude for God’s merciful grace. All mankind errs. God forgives all who repent. Viewing the hard side of error–incarceration–is a sobering thing. It is also a beautiful thing, to see repentance perceptibly fulfilled, and the promise of forgiveness.
Once again, Happy Thanksgiving, especially to all who apprehend and repent of their own sins and the gracious mercy that removes them from our blotters.
Filed under Faith, Thoughts
Happy Thanksgiving! We are thankful for the beauty God has given us. The sunlight’s gleaming gold crested the fields and basalt hills only briefly. Clouds recaptured the hills immediately after I took the photo.
Our county prosecutor and his staff have a tradition of organizing a Thanksgiving dinner at the jail, and this year my husband, who is a county public defender, and I took up the offer to help serve the dinner. I’m so thankful that we did, because it turned out to be the most enjoyable Thanksgiving I have ever had, and I didn’t eat a thing. We served, and the “resident guests” as I call them, took their plates back to their quarters.
Everyone was in pleasant, gracious spirits, and all the resident guests were upbeat and thankful for everything. One fellow even took the opportunity to thank the prosecutor for getting him there!
I was pleased to meet several of my husband’s clients, who very kindly extended to me their appreciation for their attorney. Our resident guests all were pleasant men and women. Had I thought about it beforehand, it would have been difficult for me to imagine such contention-free warmth in a diverse group of 50 people at a holiday event. It would have been difficult for me to imagine being comfortable around so many people. But there it all was: the unimaginable. My best Thanksgiving ever.
Reflection, the Snake River near Asotin, Washington
“Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” Ps. 107:8
My husband and I revisited Fields Spring Park, thankful for a fair-weather day, pheasants in the stubble fields, a pleasant hour’s walk, views of the Grande Ronde Valley–and the fact that we were able to pick up some groceries at Wal-Mart on the way home, before the Crazy Thursday horde descended.
In his photo essay of unintelligible conflicts, malaria, and starvation in Central African Republic, TIME’s William Daniels identifies a generalized dearth of grace as “chronic humanitarian crisis.” It seems a compelling diagnosis, but I am not sure what exactly it means.
Starvation, disease, rape, murder, and war: I cannot begin to ponder or even imagine such conditions as those in Mr. Williams’ images; nor do I wish that I could. Does this make me an afflicter of these people with whom I find few if any common referents? No. A receiver of certain common graces does not make one an afflicter. I am far too unimportant to have any such impact. Does the fact that my cat routinely receives medical care prevent anyone in Central African Republic from receiving any medical care at all, perhaps ever in his or her lifetime? No; my cat is not the cause of the socio-political corruption that prevents distribution of medical resources anywhere on earth. He is important, but not that important.
I can only be thankful: thankful for the gracious blessings I have received, knowing God had no duty to bestow any at all, nor any duty to continue them. I can pray for the light of the Gospel of our sin bearer, Jesus Christ, to dispel the darkness of those places where the gates of Hell–the sphere of chronic humanitarian crisis operations–now holds sway but will not prevail.
That is why it is right to give thanks and praise before I say, “Amen.”
While some big chain stores in other parts of the country were experiencing record sales and masses of blood-sport shoppers, we sort of yawned ourselves into the evening, slept through the entire night without making a midnight Wal-Mart stop, and shopped for groceries Black Friday morning in a near-empty Safeway. Our gentle traffic flowed normally, and we noticed plenty of parking space everywhere we looked. I cling to my pleasant routine like a starfish to his rock, heedless of much at all outside my pleasant valley environs.
Among the very most pleasant highlights of my routine is my weekly Skype visit with my daughter and my incredible now-three-month-old granddaughter. How fast she is growing, and in such suspense we remain, awaiting the outcome of the clone wars: will her eyes stay blue, like my daughter’s and mine, or will they turn brown, like her handsome dad’s? They actually seem to be favoring a turn toward hazel, which would be kind of a win-win anyway.
Pain is pain, and part of life, and life goes on. Exercise only aggravates, my muscles fairly scoff at pharmaceutical remedies, and the very best therapy I have found is finding wonderful snowsuits and warm clothing in my granddaughter’s size at the children’s resale shop and the St. Vincent Thrift Store. This sort of shopping is a joy, and I’m working on handbag logistics, trying to find a way to haul my necessary gear (my idea of necessary would likely stymie a woman who can leave home with nothing but a phone, a key, and a lipstick) without having my scalene muscles drilled with burning pokers: the sensation left by even the softest bag strap on even the lightest bag.
The fact that we live in the Lewis-Clark Valley, the fact of new life in our family, and the fact of God’s radiant manifest goodness all around us contribute the most important thing in the world, which is a routine of thankfulness: a routine sometimes diverted, but one which always compels return.
Mindful of my frequent failure to be thankful for what I’m given, or even to ask for that which I would like to be given, I very much appreciated this observation from J. C. Ryle:
In short, our Lord prayed always, and did not faint. Sinless as He was, He set us an example of diligent communion with His Father. His Godhead did not render Him independent of the use of all means as a man. His very perfection was a perfection kept up through the exercise of prayer.
We ought to see in all this the immense importance of private devotion. If He who was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners,” thus prayed continually, how much more ought we who are compassed with infirmity? If He found it needful to offer up supplications with strong crying and tears, how much more needful is it for us, who in many things offend daily? (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on Mark (Banner of Truth), pp. 17-18)