Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. friends! This is one festival I really wish we celebrated here in Oz. I hope you all have a beautiful time pausing and giving united thanks.
Life has been full here this term, and sitting down to write has been an occasional activity rather than a regular one. I’m sorry for being inconsistent with my posts. In all the fullness, though there is much to be thankful for, even in the hard bits.
On the theme of giving thanks I want to share something of my son’s journey over the last few weeks.
This term one of my sons, has challenged himself to nominate for a school leadership role. He is the first to do so in our family. At my kids’ school this is an involved process of serving, studying leadership, researching leaders, presenting their findings to inspire others, and making both prepared and impromptu speeches.
Generally this son is shy of public speaking. A group larger than 4 is overwhelming for him. Our family gathered at the dinner table is overwhelming for him! As a toddler he wouldn’t greet strangers, say please and thank you or sorry. Even now when he is put on the spot publicly, he sometimes freezes up.
However, he wanted to try for a leadership position at school. After all, he has a servant heart. In his own clever way he worked out that there were positions available without speaking components, if he could only get through the initial trial by fire.
The night before the final speech, the one that would announce himself as a candidate to the school, he asked me to pray with him. What an honour, and joy, it is to pray with your kids when they initiate it!
Then I encouraged my son to pray during the hour of preparation time they would be given the following day. I encouraged him to pray as he waited to go on stage. I encouraged him not to fear the jelly legs, or the sick feeling, but to give thanks for all of it.
“Begin your prayer with thanks and praise,” I found myself saying.” not with with, God, please, please help me!”
Why? He asked.
God says in the Psalms, “enter my courts with thanksgiving and praise.” I tried to explain this to my son to encourage him, and I want to share it with you for the same reason.
“You want to go right through those doors.” I said, “All the beggars crying, ‘help me help me,’ in the bible, were always out side the gates of the temple, unable to get in.”
When God says, “Enter my courts with thanksgiving and praise,” It means that with thanks and praise you will enter! Thanks and praise are the code, the password, they’ll get you straight in.
To be truly thankful you must lift your head to look at someone else. When you are thankful to God, you change your posture from looking down at yourself to looking up at Him. When you praise, you open your hands, you let go of what you’re holding onto (control, fear, worry, hurt, anger) you raise your arms to reach towards heaven, you lift your voice in song and your heart goes too.
Jesus still heard those beggars, but he always had to ask them, Do you want to get well? It wasn’t obvious. They still needed a miracle to take place first. Do you want what is always present and available inside those heavenly courts; health, life, peace, joy, beauty, hope, faith and always love, so, so much love? If you do, you need to get yourself inside. How? Start with thanksgiving and praise.
Thanksgiving is a miracle. It releases us from bondage. Praise is a miracle. It opens up the channel between us and heaven.
Once you’re in you can present your requests, and your petition, to the King, inside the courts, is where we get an audience with our King. Have you ever noticed that Jesus didn’t stop and speak to every beggar outside the gates. He didn’t respond to every one. The silent ones who didn’t even cry out, ‘help, help, help!’ Although he had compassion, he went by them.
We need to move towards the Lord for him to move towards us. James 4:8a says,
“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”
God will still hear our cry if we are not thankful. But if we are not thankful we will still need a miracle to get through those gates. The miracle of gratitude. The miracle of praise.
Many of those beggars once they were miraculously healed were also miraculously thankful, and their response was to run straight through the gates into the temple courts, leaping and praising God. They no longer needed to be carried, they no longer needed to stop outside and beg.
The other thing thanks and praise does is it invites trust. We must trustingly place ourself, others and our situation into God’s hands. In the posture of thanks and praise our hands can no longer hold onto anything, they can only receive.
In my son’s situation, praying like this took the pressure off his speech. If he was to be chosen for leadership, he would be chosen, no matter how his speech went.
On the day, when he prayed, my son tells me he felt peace straight away. Apparently, he forgot all of the leader ship notes they were allowed to take into the preparation room, he’d left them at home. His entire speech, he wrote from nothing but faith.
He did not suddenly become a brilliant speech maker, he struggled to coordinate with the microphone, but he spoke clearly and loudly enough to be heard by the crowd, over whom a respectful hush fell. He wasn’t funny or clever, just himself. He even admitted he was hopeless at public speaking.
But as my daughter says, he actually didn’t look terrified before he stood up, and there was peace over him when he sat down. He had released it into God’s hands, he wasn’t really there anymore, he was in the heavenly courts, watching with a different view. The outcome didn’t matter any more.
He did get voted into a leadership position, and he was very happy about it, but the first thing he told me was not the result, but how God moved, how a miracle had taken place in his heart, and how he was encouraged to pray like that again, because he had been in the heavenly courts, he had felt the presence of the Lord, he had been heard by his King and his heart was light.
I want to encourage you today as you give thanks, be encouraged to go through those gates to lift your face, your heart, your eyes and your hands to the Lord who can do it. Be blessed in his heavenly courts, and as you are, know that the kingdom of heaven is within you.
Lots of love,
© Lauren Macdonald. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission, from this blog’s author, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lauren Macdonald @ http://godhelpmei.com