[Guest post by Sherrie Harris: Sherrie sent in this post that is perfect for this thanksgiving time! Please enjoy her inspiring story of gratitude and grace.]
As the girls entered the room, trickling in one or two at a time, their faces shone with gratefulness and possibilities. They began to cry out in unadulterated and uninhibited praise, as the tears of answered prayers streamed down their faces. “God is faithful,” they confessed. “God is faithful!”
In 2012, I had the privilege of ministering to and serving women and children in Africa, during a missions’ trip with like-minded servant leaders. Our team traveled to Kenya with the hope of resembling the sheep of Matthew 25.
“All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’” Matthew 25:32-36
The journey was one of the most life-altering gifts I’ve received in service to others. I’m richer in perspective, wonder, and gratitude.
Heartrending snapshots from that time remain imprinted on my heart. Watching small faces pressed against makeshift school walls, anxious to partake, but lacking the uniforms needed to join their peers. Rows of cribs filled with abandoned babies left to find hope. Stories of abuse from the innocent. Children raising their voices in song as gifts. Female prisoners that cried of unjust justice. Girls entering a small room, erupting in praise after seeing their new décor and freshly painted walls inscribed with words like, “Dream Big,” “Love,” and “Inspire.” The scene swelled my heart, blood rushed with joy.
It was just one of contributions during the trip. Though amateur, we gave it our personal best. It felt amazing and humbling to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We couldn’t take ownership for the idea, skill, or materials. God owns everything. We manage a little.
The girls stood there weeping and praising, praising and weeping, confident in their truth. God, helper of the fatherless, mobilized a few ordinary people to travel across the waters to adorn their dream space with love and inspired faith. Though they were visibly obliged, I suspect their gratitude was less about us, and more about God’s unconditional love for them.
No lack of earthly possessions or hardship could separate them from the love of Christ. There were no distractions between them and Jesus.
At times, the magnitude of our gratitude is amplified by the distance our blessings travel to find us, the degree to which the impossible becomes possible in our lives, and the level of sacrifice required to serve us. The evidence of Jesus inspires gratitude. He paid it ALL!
Thanksgiving is near. Life itself is enough to be thankful for and many of us have been graced to receive renewed and abundant life. Some will gather with family and friends, celebrate connection, eat until they can’t, and store leftovers for the days to come.
What better season to give praise, radical praise! Not for how many (or few) possessions you have, those things are temporal, but for eternity and the hope thereof. Give thanks for the demonstration of God’s love in your life and works of His people. Give thanks for grace.
“And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” Acts 4:33-34
You don’t have to travel across the waters to serve one another in love, open the doors of your homes and hearts this holiday. Share what you’ve been so richly blessed to receive. Put no distractions between you and Jesus.
“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
Sherrie Harris is a woman of faith, pastor’s wife, proud mommy, career professional, servant leader, an introvert with spurts of extrovertism, encourager, coach, and a few or more laughs. Sherrie created a new blog called aPOP, http://aplaceofpower.com this year to share her heart with other women and open up a virtual gathering place for women to be inspired, encouraged, challenged, and provoked!
Photo provided by Sherrie Harris.