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Gratitude Friday: Navigating the Sacred, Holy Tension…

Yesterday morning as I was fixing lunches for the day, I had one of those moments of panic when you think you might have forgotten to do something super important.

Like… take the final exam in your last class in college, pay a bill, renew your driver’s license.

Or maybe feed your children dinner.

You know, whatever.

I’d met a friend for lunch on Wednesday and despite checking the website and confirming the contents of each individual ingredient of my soup and salad, I still ended up eating gluten. Restaurants are a minefield of risk. I thought I was handling it okay but by dinner time that night, I was managing somewhere just below functional.

There but not.

Doing our bedtime thank you list that night, I was mostly grateful to be moments away from lying incredibly still in my own bed while Skillet was thankful for Froggy (his lovely) and Saffron was grateful for free draw time at school (she drew this really fantastic rainbow).

I did not confess to being most grateful for my bed but instead said, “I am grateful for all the days when I am not sick because there are far more of those than days when I am sick.”

Gratitude for the tension between what is and what will be. 

All that I remembered, but dinner was a blur of uncertainty.

When my daughter woke up, I asked her, “Baby girl, did I feed you dinner last night????”

She looked at me in that precious, concerned pre-tween way that whispers, My Mom is crraaazzyyy, and then said,

“Ummmm…yes?!?!? You made me a grilled cheese.”

“Oh thank goodness.”

Over the last several months, I’ve been thinking a good bit about the tensions in life. The push and pull, releasing and embracing, letting go and receiving. The tension we all feel in so many different areas.

Last weekend, my pastor spoke about the tension between grace and truth. Those sacred echoes for me, moments when God speaks on a something He’s been working on with me, become touchstones of revelation.

What I can’t seem to shake is this feeling Christians ought to be professionals at living in the tension.

In the world but not of it.

The Kingdom of God is now but Thy Kingdom come.

Clothed in righteousness but living in a sinful body.

Suffering and trials promised but all things work together for the good to those who love the Lord.

And that doesn’t even begin to touch the tension we live with in the everyday culture.

Where we are to honor others above ourselves, love our enemies, offer forgiveness seven times seventy times, care for the widows and orphans, walk a mile with our neighbor and then walk another one.

In the Kingdom, the last will be first. In culture, the last will be unseen, victimized, worthless, lazy, scapegoats.

In the Kingdom, we practice hospitality to strangers because in caring for those we may be hosting angels. In culture, we build lives in communities where strangers are to be feared and vilified.

In the Kingdom, Jesus sent us to make Him known even unto the ends of the earth. In culture, we struggled to travel across the street to reach our neighbors.

In the Kingdom, we sow generously through our time, gifts, finances, and care because we know everything is on loan to us from our generous loving Father. In culture, we keep the most we can through any means we can because we deserve it and we’ve earned it to be used by us and us alone to fulfill our desires and plans.

Christians should be the most agile when it comes to navigating the tensions of life. We should be the ones who can sit in it. The ones who want to point others to the saving grace and unending love of our Savior.

But often, we’re not.

This push and pull of life, the tension, it’s a sacred, holy place.

But it’s often uncomfortable and kinda weird.

I think the reason we sometimes fall short at navigating the tension well is this: we want to fix the uncomfortable and feel less weird. Only we know we can’t.

That’s it really.

During Thanksgiving week, when we are all encouraged to find our way to gratitude and the counting of blessings, let’s spend some time thinking about the tensions in our life.

The push and pull, the releasing and embracing, the picking up and letting go. The places where we feel a whole lot uncomfortable and a little bit weird.

And ask ourselves if we are pointing people to Jesus in the midst of that tension.

As we bake our turkeys and brave crowds at sales and take deep breaths before grumpy relatives arrive, let’s remember we are not called to resolve the tension of this world. We cannot fix it.

Only Jesus will do that when He returns.

Instead, we are called to do as Jesus did.

Sit at tables with outcasts, break bread with betrayers, weep with the grieving, feed the hungry, wrap the wounds of our enemies, and pour out lavish offerings of gratitude.

Within the tension, this is where we have the greatest opportunity to live as the hand and feet (and mouth) of Jesus.

Let’s not wake up with that feeling of panic. Worried we might have missed our chance to point others to our Savior. We can decide now to live grateful in the tension. The push and pull, the releasing of this world and embracing of the Kingdom.

May you have sacred, holy opportunities to do as Jesus did in the smack middle of that tension.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. 

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