The lights hung low, the rain poured down, the coffee tasted sweet with nutella undertones (it was called a Nutellatte), and my hand itched for a pencil or pen or anything that I could write with. There was nothing, and I sought to imprint memories into my head, that now all I can do is seek to remember. This was the coffee shop life. We sat together in an artsy college coffee shop in Thailand for a few hours, reading, reflecting and waiting for the restaurant to open for dinner. Reading 1000 Gifts as the lights flashed off from power outage, and the rain poured down from rainy season, I realized how much there is too be thankful for. I realized that slight obsession I had with 1 Thessalonians all summer fit into this thankfulness and the lessons of good works and suffering also.
The coffee shop had light fixtures hanging, in that long modern/artsy look, a few in a bunch, all different lengths, with different colors at the end. Even without the electricity pulsing through them, they made for exciting patterns against the backdrop of the staircase - a staircase that lead to more seating. As I took off my Toms to check the upstairs area, by feet made baby powder footprints on the first few steps. It seemed poetic enough to talk about, for all I could really think on as I saw the mark I left, was how even the little marks we make can have a large difference with the strength of God to back us up. I was just reading in Psalm 1 today, of the delight that meditating on the Lord brings, and as we meditate we are like a tree - bearing fruit in season. Seek to live for the Lord, and suddenly He bears fruit in us that He uses for His glory. He causes all that is done, through those to live for Him, to prosper. Even the times we feel ineffective, or like everything is going wrong, the Lord causes it to prosper. It is the Lord's and it is good. Ann Voskamp, the author of 1000 Gifts works through this in chapters 7 and 9 ... the chapters I read in that little coffee shop. Can I give thanks to God, even when my anger boils at certain situations, or when I feel like "God's plan" isn't working, or even through immense suffering (that I've not had yet, be we are called to)? Can I give thanks for a summer where I am still unsure about the long term affects? The answer should be yes. The answer is yes? By God's grace, and a thankful heart may I resolutely say, yes.
The thing that Ann discovers too is that she must cling to His grace, and seek after a thankful heart - it doesn't come radically naturally, it comes with work. Isn't this the same as we seek to overcome our flesh? We need to work at overcoming our worldly desires, and we need to work at serving the Kingdom of God and in this the Lord is well pleased. In this the Lord uses us. In this we see the Joy of the Lord as our Strength, and rejoice that He is good. In this we become more thankful, and lift up our faces to cry out, how long until I can thank you with all the Saints!
Ah the blessing of seeing the steady build up of lessons the Lord gives. How He layers lessons by lesson to give us the whole picture. No wonder "master teachers" use a similar method, for they model the Master Teacher. Oh how I rejoice that each new lesson brings more realization that I know nothing, and oh how this desires to make me desire Him all the more!
It took a long sit in a college coffee hot spot, and the words of a poetic life teller, for my thoughts to begin to assemble about my lessons from the summer. There are still many questions left unanswered, but they don't see as important as they once did because my peace in the Lord has be raised, if even just a little bit.
Thank you for following my emotional/spiritual/physical journey this summer.
Check out Ann Voskamp's blog and website for the book, but with that I do say in regards to the book what Sarah told me when I first picked it up - it is poetic writing, not meant for deep theological reasoning, but meant to be Ann's journey in better understanding thanksgiving. I find her writing lovely, but I also like to have my bible open and ready to test all things. Many blessings!