Thanksgiving has always been tied with Easter as being my favorite holiday. Perhaps it’s because it’s my mom’s favorite holiday, and she makes a big deal out of it. Maybe it’s because I’m pretty anti-commercialization, and Thanksgiving (for the most part) is not as tainted by the world of marketing, advertising, and bows and packages. It could be because it’s all about family, and I happen to believe mine is pretty spectacular, unique, fun-loving, and quirky. And let’s face it–it’s about the food, folks.
My mom started a tradition years ago of going around the table and asking us to share at least one thing we’re thankful for. This has sparked some interesting conversations, jokes, and tears. One year, my sister revealed her pregnancy to us during this sharing time. Top THAT!
This year, as I thought about that tradition, I decided to take my turn around the table in advance and share with all of you a little something that’s been on my mind this week that I’m incredibly grateful for.
It seems that God has been stepping up His game in the prayer and faith department. I know He knows what I need–spiritually speaking and otherwise–and I’ve been having a sort of faith and trust crisis. Most days, I pray for God’s will. I don’t need to pray for specific things necessarily because I believe He’s got me figured out and can handle the details. But lately I have asked Him for some specific things, and He’s delivered. Every single time, I’ve been like a kid at Christmas when I discover that He’s answered my prayer.
Thursday morning, I prayed for rain in northeast Arkansas. The love of my life needed it. He’s a forester. Parts of his livelihood depend on it. That evening, it rained there. And the forecast changed to include more rain the following week than had previously been expected.
Friday morning, when he went to check his beaver snares on some land he’s managing for a client, I prayed that he’d find at least one beaver in one snare. We’d just talked, and I could sense in his voice that he was doubting himself or had some worries about the job he’d done. He found a huge beaver that morning, one of the largest he said he’d ever seen.
That evening, I had coffee with James, my friend Joey, and Joey’s parents. I decided that afternoon to go hunting with James and Joey the next morning. It was a total impromptu decision. I love the woods, and I’ve become a complete nature fanatic the past few years. But I’ve never had any real desire to hunt, even though James bought me a shotgun a few months ago. I’ve loved learning to shoot, but still, I’m not sure why I decided to go hunting. Anyway, I asked if they’d mind if I went along, and James said, “Of course not!” He looked pleasantly shocked. While we sat there at Joey’s mom’s dining room table, I said, “Oh wait. I have to pray that I’ll kill a deer with antlers. God’s been answering my prayers lately.” So I prayed for that right then.
The next day, we went out into the woods early in the morning and saw a few deer but didn’t get to shoot at any. We ate breakfast, took a nap, and went back into the woods for a few hours before sunset. As James and I sat under a tree hidden behind some brush whispering to one another, a lone spike appeared about 100 yards away. “There’s your deer,” he whispered. I got the gun, sighted the deer, and as I muttered under my breath hoping the deer would move into a clear area, the deer jerked and seemed spooked by something in the woods in a different direction. “If you want to shoot it, you better shoot it now,” James told me. So I shot it right in the lungs where he’d told me to aim.
After he’d assured me I’d DEFINITELY killed a deer, I was elated. We waited for a few minutes and then went and discovered the buck’s body lying about 10 yards from where I’d shot it.
Its “antlers” may have been small, but God heard my prayer, and He answered that one, too. He just has a sense of humor.
All year long, He’s answered my prayers. This is what I’m grateful for. He always knows what I need, even when I don’t. He has given me more than I could have asked for so many times and taken from me what He knew I wouldn’t have been able to let go of but never needed to have.