First of all, let me just say that it’s really weird to drive to Memphis for the holidays. Annika drove in from Furman University, Mark drove in from the University of Alabama, and Karin and I drove in from Atlanta, GA.
All of us are proud Memphians and are accustomed to Memphis being home. We miss our family, our friends, our church, and, most of all, our vision for the city. Right now, I’m especially missing my season tickets for the first season of Tiger Basketball under Penny Hardaway!
This week is Thanksgiving.
How do the Conlees celebrate Thanksgiving?
- How do you give thanks when it’s not the year of blessing?
- How do you give thanks when it’s the year of loss?
- How do you give thanks when it’s the year of grieving?
How do you honor 1 Thessalonians 5:18?
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
He can’t possibly mean “all circumstances.”
Does He really know the magnitude of my circumstances?
- My wife lost her home, her friends, and her ministry.
- My kids lost their home, their friends, and trust in the church.
- I lost everything I believed in and built for 18 years.
Yes, the valley of 2018 is deep. But I’m thankful for the One who promises to walk with us though the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). I’m also beyond thankful for my family and friends who’ve walked with me through this valley. It’s impossible for words to adequately express my gratitude and appreciation for those who have stuck closer than a brother during this season of adversity. By the way, we’re not out of the valley yet, so please keep walking with us.
And I’m thankful that our God is a healer. At the beginning of November, Karin and I went to Bend, Oregon, for three days of intensive counseling with a friend named Joseph Dalton (www.navahretreats.com). It was one of the most peaceful and powerful times I’ve ever had in the presence of God.
In a prayer time during the counseling session, God showed up powerfully in a way that I can only describe as a vision. He showed me a picture of myself on a battlefield… and I’ll spare you the details, but Jesus met me right there and allowed me to experience the most incredible healing on so many levels.
Please don’t over-think this or be weirded out by it. God wants to meet all of us where we’re at and heal our pain… and He chooses different ways to do that with each of us. This is simply how He chose to minister to me.
Our counselor was incredibly qualified and gifted in all the expertise of counseling, but I was grateful he was also sensitive to the Holy Spirit and knew when to lead us in prayer and ask God to heal what can’t be humanly healed.
It was obvious that God was healing me in that moment, but it was even more obvious that God was speaking into my future life and ministry.
So, what are the Conlees most thankful for this Thanksgiving?
- For Jesus walking with us through the valley.
- For family and friends walking with us through the valley.
- For healing from God and the sensitivity of a gifted counselor.
- For true forgiveness. I’ll write more about that in my next blog…