Getting to “Whatever”

“Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ.  This is what God wants you to do.”   1 Thessalonians 5:18 (Contemporary English Version)

             There are times in life when the atmosphere simply shifts. The earth moves. The stars swing into motion and reappear in a completely different part of the galaxy. It is at those times, that Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica speaks volumes. In those surprising “whatever” moments, that’s when life happens. When you face the unexpected. When some part of the mere process of living on planet earth simply jumps out of the darkness and shouts, “surprise!”

I know about “whatever” moments. And I know because the Lord designed a paradigm shift in my life. In a new, untried place, I learned a deeper lesson of what it means to completely rely on His design.  I live in a new place. I have a new, unanticipated marital status—widow. But, in your case it may be joblessness, finding a home, entering a relationship, having a child, facing an illness, finding financial balance. Any new phase can lead to those “whatever” moments. Mine is clearly a new walk, yet I trust that God’s guidance and sufficiency are not behind me—not in my past—they are ahead of me, in the future He is leading me towards.

When I spoke with a friend’s daughter who unexpectedly became a very young widow, I shared the importance of thankfulness at her new “whatever” point.

The advice of Paul is clear. When you come face-to-face with “whatever,” your response must be to immediately start thanking. Then, keep thanking.  Thankfulness is the posture God wants for you.

Even when we are blessed, secure, healthy and comfortable, we must constantly be aware of the fact that thankfulness, in every situation, is essential. Today, more than ever, I recognize small mercies. Never wait for the big miracles; be thankful for breathing, thinking, walking, talking, working, eating, loving someone and having folks who love you. Life sparkles when we give thanks in all things.

You get to that thankful place of “whatever” by growing up in your faith. And by trusting God for all of your tomorrows, even the unplanned ones. Do not hinder the work that God will accomplish in you by anything—especially by seeds of doubt about whether or not you can see all that is in your future. Because you cannot.

Still, know this. His abundance is enough. In that grace, embrace every one of life’s “whatever” moments.

(Image:  iStock Photo by Aldo Murillo)

The Power of Love

L L Cool J, the celebrity actor and rap artist, was interviewed on television the other day by Piers Morgan and asked about the key to his successful marriage.  “What is the secret?” Piers asked.  After just a brief moment of contemplation, his reply was brilliantly direct and simple, “Eat your soup and let her talk.”  Indeed!  Even as someone who has always enjoyed having the last word, I can appreciate that. In fact, I greatly love the quotation by theologian, Paul Tillich, who said:  “The first duty of love is to listen.”

In its best example of the power of love, we express our thankfulness and our praise for one another. Not just on the occasion of an annual love holiday, but every moment, every day, all year long.

The knowledge of how to live your best and most lovingly joyful life will forever transform, illuminate and unshackle you.

The celebration of Valentine’s Day is an occasion for us to exchange flowers, candy, gifts and verbal or written expressions of our love and commitment. We share love with others, not because they demand it, but because we choose to.

As one who was married and committed to one person for nearly fifty years, I know for certain that having a truly personal relationship with a loving God is best demonstrated by how well we love those around us.  And that includes our spouses, parents, children, friends, fellow Christians, neighbors, coworkers, colleagues, strangers—everybody.  Love demonstrates what living your best life is all about.  On the deepest level, the energy of our love reflects the energy of how much our Creator loves us.

Real love transcends distractions, procrastination, unforgiveness, and all of the reasons why we should not love one another.  To experience the true power of love, learn to express your love, even to those who may not love you.  After all, loving those who love you first is the easy part.  When you can love the difficult people in your life, then you know for certain that you’ve got this love thing figured out.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.~ 1 John 4:7 

(Photo:  ©iStockphoto.com/cillay)