November has arrived. We begin the month with All Saint’s Day. All Saints gives us the opportunity to give thanks for the faithful generations that have come before us. We thank the Lord that they have received their reward, the crown the righteousness. We are also thankful for how they faithfully passed down the faith to us.
At the end of the month, we celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a national holiday when we gather as families to count our many blessings. We can see how gratitude is a reoccurring theme throughout the month.
But there is the grind. Life has a way of taking hold of us. We get busy and are constantly in a hurry, especially this time of the year. Kids are in the middle of the school year and entering the holiday season always adds to our calendars. When we are confronted with challenges, we easily become set with worry and anxiety. We miss not only the hidden blessings but also the blessings that stand right before our eyes.
Yesterday, was a most incredible and beautiful day in New Jersey. The weather was warm. The sun was out. The Fall colors were on full display. I pulled into our church parking lot and was taken by a tree that was a brilliant orange in color. It was breathtaking, a show-stopper. It brought to mind the flame of the Holy Spirit and was as if God was doing everything to capture my attention. I took a picture of it. The picture is pretty, but it does not do it justice.
I then posted this picture on Facebook with the caption: “A beautiful Fall day in Old Bridge, NJ – full of God’s color and creativity.”
Little did I realize that another church member took the same picture. It was not just that they took a picture of the same tree, but they framed the picture in the same way that I did. The only thing that looked different was the cloud pattern in the sky.
However, this church member was not having a great day. Her husband had been admitted to the hospital, and she was a bit overwhelmed. While she sat in the hospital with her husband, she looked on Facebook and saw the picture I posted. At first glance, she didn’t realize that it was my picture. She thought it was her picture. It seemed odd because she had remembered taking the picture but didn’t remember posting it on Facebook. Although she had intended to post it on Facebook, she had forgotten because of the events of the day. When she looked at the picture closer, she saw the picture associated with my profile and realized it was not her picture.
But she found a lesson in the irony of having taken that same picture on the same day. It was a reminder for her that God is at work and we have much to be grateful for – even in the grind. She might have forgotten to post the picture on Facebook, but she did not forget to be grateful and rejoice in God’s presence. She was having a difficult day, but God had got her attention and caused her to stop and appreciate his goodness.
In a small way, the Holy Spirit flaming tree was a reminder that God is present and not forget it. The Holy Spirit is at work even when we don’t see it. He has blessings that are hidden. At the same time, he has blessings in plain sight that we don’t see because we look past them. Even when we are filled with worry and anxiety, God is at work if we have eyes to see it.
God got my attention yesterday with a tree. It is not all that much different from how he got our attention with another tree 2000 years ago outside of Jerusalem. But this other tree was not filled with beautiful color. This other tree was adorned with his only Son, Jesus. Jesus would die upon that tree for our sin and the sin of the world. It might not have been beautiful to look at, but it was good. Good for us! It brought us forgiveness and reconciliation with God. If we have nothing else to be grateful for, we can at least be grateful that God did not spare his Son, but offered him as a sacrifice so that in him we might have life.
- What blessings have you looked past today because you were caught in the grind of life?
- Take a few moments to recognize the blessings you missed recognizing.
- How do you maintain a grateful heart when the world is weighing you down?