Wednesday, November 24, 2010

For Wherever You Have Been, And Wherever He Is Taking You

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From time to time, my husband and I will surprise our children with an unexpected trip. We pack their bags behind closed doors. One of us instigates a diversion while the other sneaks the luggage into the back of the van. With Academy Award-winning nonchalance, we announce that we need to go somewhere. It’s usually not until we turn onto the Interstate that they begin to ask: “Hey, where are we going?”

Rich and I have surprised the kids with a visit to see their cousins who live in a neighboring state. One frosty winter weekend we drove a couple of hours away and stayed overnight in a hotel that had an indoor swimming pool. There are plenty of ways to surprise the kids closer to home, as well. Once the children thought they were going to the grocery store, and instead, we went to get fast food and see a movie. The element of surprise makes everything more fun!

On a recent outing, my nine-year-old realized we were navigating roads that he’d never before seen.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“You’ll see,” his dad smiled.

My son settled back happily into his seat and grinned. “Thanks, Dad,” he said, “for wherever you’re taking us.”

My children have come to the place where they realize that wherever Daddy is taking them, it will be a good thing. It doesn’t have to be revealed to them during the journey. They’ll understand the details once we arrive at our destination. Because of our proven track record, they can rest in the assurance that their parents have taken care of everything: pajamas, toothbrushes, even swimsuits. After all, it’s no surprise to us that the hotel has an indoor swimming pool--we’re the ones who planned the trip!

Thanksgiving beckons us to spend an extended weekend dwelling in thankfulness, providing the perfect opportunity for reflection. As I ponder my Christian journey this year, I have to question my own spirit of gratitude. Certainly, I’m thankful for the multiple blessings that the Lord has mercifully heaped upon my family and me. But can I continue to offer praises of thanksgiving for everywhere my Father took me? Or do I just thank Him for the places I wanted to go?

Do I thank Him for health but withhold praise for a two-week bout with pneumonia? Do I raise my hands high in gratitude for writing opportunities but keep my arms tightly crossed when I consider the number of articles that were rejected? Do I praise Him for spiritual victories yet at the same time fail to mention my appreciation for the inner struggles that nearly devastated me? Do I childishly reserve my standing ovation for the trips by the drive-through window and yawn at the bounty bought with seed, time, and harvest?

As I look back over the past year, I see some definite surprises between the on ramp of 2003 and the exit up ahead. Billboards promised cheap eats and rest stops, but there have been many delays due to construction. When my grandmother died earlier this year, I thought it was one trip for which I was prepared. My family had been expecting Mammaw’s death for years, even praying for it, asking God to take her home as she languished in a nursing home. Rather than breezing along in the fast lane, I found myself in the middle of a congested thoroughfare on which grief and guilt collided and traffic came to a standstill. As I give thanks this year, can I go beyond thanking the Lord for a godly grandmother to thanking Him for the things about her death that I cannot understand? Can I thank Him for the profound heartache that I experienced? Can I thank Him for the things about our relationship that can never be changed?

In everything, give thanks. Thank God for the bumps in the road. Thank Him when the map is unreadable. Thank Him for car trouble. After all, doesn’t your Heavenly Father have a proven track record? Settle back in your seat, child of God, and thank Him for wherever you have been--and for wherever He’s taking you.*

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*This article by Rebecca Ingram Powell was originally published in the November 2003 issue of ParentLife magazine (LifeWay Christian Resources)

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