So, who says that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? I’ve been seeing the opposite of that “saying” for the last couple of weeks in my home. And you know… it hasn’t been with our dog either. Fiver is less than two years old, so he wouldn’t even qualify. But on the other hand… there is me! Yep! In this case the “old dog” is none other than yours truly!
I guess if you wanted to get technical about it, it really isn’t teaching me something brand new, but rather giving me a refresher course on something that for many years was second nature to me. And that something is all about I Thessalonians 5:18 where the Apostle Paul wrote to the church encouraging them: “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (KJV)
For most of my married life, you could squeeze me and I would automatically reply “Thank you Jesus, Praise the Lord!” Like I said, it had become second nature to me. Whenever something traumatic happened at home, at church or on the job, anyone standing near me would hear me uttering those words. On more than just a few occasions I’ve had people near me (especially at my secular job) look at me a little weird and ask: “What did you say?”
That’s where my focus and trust was and I would say it without even thinking… and if my wife was near me, you would have heard the same thing come from her lips as well… like the time our oldest son Josh (whose birthday is today!) fell off a neighbors patio table and put a gash in his head. I can still clearly remember standing near the table in ER while the doctors where attempting to sew up the wound on a squirming little boy who kept calling out “Daddy, don’t let them do it!” But the whole time as I stood there comforting my son and attempting to help my sweet wife who was turning white as a sheet, I kept thanking God that everything was going to turn out okay… and it did! I don’t even think you can see the scar on his forehead anymore… some 30+ years later!
But you know… with all the turmoil, painful turn of events with my wife’s health, and the shocking reality of how different people have reacted to her needs, I seem to have gotten away from my first line of defense… “Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.” (I Thessalonians 5:18 God’s Word©)
Now that’s not to say that I am not trusting God with my whole heart, soul and mind, but thanksgiving hasn’t always been the first thing out of my mouth! In the midst of emotions tearing at my heart, I’ve actually uttered a few things that while not horrendous according to the world’s point of view… are quite shocking for my Christian standards to hear coming out of MY mouth!
So… I have set about to change that and teach this old dog a new trick! And I have had no better opportunity than when I am helping my wife to swallow her medicines and protein drinks. We are at a point that if she stops swallowing… well… the results won’t be too positive. So when she refuses to swallow at times, it has been getting increasingly more difficult for me to fight off the fear and hopelessness that continually knocks on the door of my heart and mind.
Lately though, that’s all be changing as I am re-teaching myself to continually THANK GOD for every swallow, every attempt at swallowing and even when the liquid comes right back out and all over my hands and her shirt! And you know what? It works! Every time I begin to THANK GOD and praise Him for how Piper is doing…be it positive or maybe not so positively… things begin to turn around and progress is made with her meal intake!
Now that may seem like a silly little thing to some of you, but to me IT IS A MAJOR VICTORY! At these times I simply want to slide back my chair and shout “NOW, thanks be to God, which ALWAYS causes us TO TRIUPMH in Christ and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” (2 Corinthians 2:14 KLV)
So yea… This old dog is learning and/or re-learning some new tricks! Tricks from the Word of God that cause my life to be a more expedient, blessed and successful place to inhabit! What do you think about that? I mean something as seemingly insignificant as thanking God in the midst of any situation – be it good or bad – rough going or smooth sailing – can make a HUGE difference in one’s attitude, one’s hope and one’s joyful countenance.
2 Corinthians 2:15 says that our giving thanks to God causes us to pick up the flavor of Christ from which “we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation – an aroma redolent with life!” (The Message) I mean think about that… not only do we get blessed with peace and joy, but others as well as they come into contact with us!
I can remember my days at Home Depot when some female customers would come in wearing a perfume that literally turned my stomach! But then there were others that carried a sweet scent that lingered behind in the aisles long after they left the store. What kind of fragrance do you leave lingering behind your presence? I know that I want people around me to “breathe in the exquisite fragrance” of Christ that is redolent with His Zoë life. (2 Corinthians 2:15 The Message) And I am re-learning that one of the best ways to do that is by giving thanks to Him in everything… starting with my wife’s breakfast in the morning!
Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to have opportunities today to give thanks to the Lord… whether I really want to or not?”