I have a bouquet of beautiful red roses on my table. They are lovely to look at, have a sweet but subtle fragrance and velvety soft petals. Roses seem like the perfect flower until you stab your finger on one of the thorns. We know that thorns come along with roses but they still sometimes surprise us.
In my life, it is when I focus on the thorns and not the roses that things take a downward spiral. I have discovered that if I’m not careful, the thorns in my life seem to multiply and soon take over my thoughts. What I need to focus on is the beauty that surrounds me, the fragrance of new adventures and the gentle softness of loving family and friends.
God has provided many things to bless my life and the occasional thorn to keep me humble. I thank him for the roses and the thorns.
Other seed fell among the thorns that grew up with it and choked out the tender plants. Luke 8:7 NLT
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me. 2 Corinthians 12:7 NIV
While I was helping out at a seminar I gave a marker to someone who needed to write on a flip chart. It worked for a few minutes and then faded out, so was quickly exchanged for another one. Since I don’t like to waste things, the first marker was tested again to see if it needed to be discarded. This testing was done on a piece of paper sitting on a table. Since it worked this time, we determined that the problem had been the angle at which it was held earlier.
Thinking about this, I wondered how often in life I have been ready to discard something when all I really needed to do was hold it at a different angle. Viewing things from another perspective can drastically change my perception. Sometimes I need to look at things from a different angle to realize that what I was looking for has been right there within my grasp all along. All I needed to do was to take the time to stop and see.
This also works in reverse. Things are not always as they seem at first glance. This is something I need to remember with people. The person who seemed abrupt may be someone who is experiencing a deep level of pain and is in need of some understanding.
What this tells me is that the way I see things is not always an accurate picture of the situation. What I need to do is to pray to the one who sees everything and ask Him for guidance. God will always show you the right angle to look at things from.
If you need wisdom ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. James 1:5 (NLT)
Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you. Psalm 86:11 (NLT)
The calendar tells us that it is Thanksgiving, and once again I reflect on the meaning behind this holiday. For some it is merely a paid day off or a day to enjoy a turkey dinner with loved ones. For others, it is as the name suggests, a day to give thanks.
If it truly is a day to give thanks, what is it that I’m thankful for? Although I appreciate the opportunity to enjoy a turkey dinner with loved ones, there is more to it than that. I need to dig much deeper. While I’m at it, I need to realize that being thankful is something to practice consistently through each and every day. A wise friend told me once that there is no such thing as an entirely bad day. There is always something to be thankful for. Many in the world would be overjoyed to have some of the things that I tend to take for granted. A comfortable home with electricity and running water come to mind. My nightly habit is to pick up my gratitude journal and write down 5 things that I was grateful for that day. Looking for and focusing on the positive has changed my life.
Part of this is not just giving thanks, but who I am giving thanks to. God has blessed me, not just with material things, but with his loving presence. Even during the trying times, he is there leading and guiding me. He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for the wrongs I have done. Now I can look forward to everlasting life with him. Now that is something to give thanks for.
.. always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 (NIV)
The owner of the store I work in is known for the amazing gift baskets she creates. When she wanted to teach me how to do them, I panicked. Feeling that I don’t have a flair for that sort of thing had me terrified to even attempt it. As she guided me through the creative process, I secretly hoped the day would never come when I would have to make one on my own.
Through her encouragement and belief in me, I slowly gained confidence. Then the fateful day came when it was necessary for me to create a basket completely on my own. The fact that I enjoyed picking out and arranging the items in the basket surprised me. After wrapping it and making a bow, I stood back and admired what I had created. I even took a picture of the finished product! The saying “I didn’t know what I could do until I did it” came to mind.
Thinking about this, I realize how many times I have been stopped in my tracks by something I thought I couldn’t do. Now I realize that just because it’s something I’ve never done before, doesn’t mean I can’t do it! When I stop and pray about the situation, Jesus guides me every step of the way. Through Him, I am able to accomplish far more than I ever thought possible. When those negative, “I can’t do it” thoughts enter my mind, I just need to think of the gift baskets and remember that all things are possible through Christ Jesus.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NIV)
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NLT)