Do you ever feel like your heart is carefully enclosed in a custom-fitted glass case (like this pretty, fragile ornament), allowing you to observe and participate in relationships with God and loved ones, but never really enabling you to be emotionally engaged or “present”, lest you “lose control” and become overwhelmed with gratitude for how abundantly loved and cared for you really are? I’m afraid this should be more typical of my interactions with God and people. But I’m too grown up for that.
I take all this stuff for granted–as if it’s normal and unnecessary to be more emotionally invested and expressive with those I love. So this Thanksgiving, I’m feeling a need to be more like a miserable puddle of grateful tears for my abundance rather than a put-together, self-sufficient, self-important pastor, husband, dad and blogger.
As I continue to recover from brain surgery, I admit at how often I resist “letting go”: to unashamedly receive the wonders of Christ’s abundant kindness, healing and compassionate care in my life.
Like many of you, I’ve observed Gabby Giffords recovery from her devastating brain injury (far worse and more complicated than mine…). In watching Gabby’s courageous steps in rehab, I’ve had opportunity to remember (because I don’t…) with Karyn how desperate and uncertain my own recovery was immediately after my surgery: paralyzed on the left side, the robotic, emotionless affect on my face, the repeated words as if my mind was stuck in the groove of some old scratched LP. I often take for granted the miraculous extent of my recovery. Tap. Tap. That’s the sound of my thoughts bumping up against that “glass” encasing my heart. I’m able to cognitively understand how I’ve recovered, but I hold myself back from allowing Gratitude to pierce that tough case protecting the flesh of my heart.
To be honest I’m afraid of what will happen if I do…
I’m afraid of looking like that endearing “fool”, David, dancing with pure abandon and joy before his forgiving, gracious God. Or like that other “fool”, Moses, falling prostrate on his face before God for forty days and forty nights in abject wonder of God’s great righteousness, holiness and purity–and yet, despite this stark reality, still deeply loving and longing to be in relationship with sinful men like him and the selfish, willful people of Israel he represented as their spiritual leader (Deut. 9)?
So this Thanksgiving, God, please pierce my heart. Shatter my sense of self-protection. Instead, soften me with the oil of gratitude. And help me to express it–however it comes out, with tears, with laughter, with a kiss, with a good hug. Overwhelm me with the abundance of all that I have because of You.
“You have prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil: my cup overflows. (Ps. 23:5)
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 Jn. 3:1)