Thanksgiving is this week…
and so I feel a bit stupid starting out like this –
I REALLY can’t stand listening to a generator.
I know. You’re wondering, “What’s the big deal?”
First, I’ve listened to them an awful lot lately.
Additionally, generators are noisy, they stink, there’s usually a big puff of black smoke as they start up, I’m quite sure they can’t be good for the environment and they consume a whole lot of diesel fuel and that gets expensive. Those might actually be considered valid reasons. They aren’t the ones behind my stronger than ambivalent dislike.
My antipathy towards those monstrosities authorizing electricity for some while everyone else plunges into darkness is simply sinful.
I detest them because I don’t have one… while everyone else around me does… repeatedly jogging my memory of something I’d rather ignore.
When the power goes out – I’m stuck sitting in the dark trying to mark papers until I get frustrated and my head aches (candlelight is hard on these getting-older eyes of mine), or I’m finishing looking up the Zarma words with unfamiliar symbols for Saturday’s Bible study, or I’m washing dishes hoping they’ll look as clean in the daylight as they do under that dreamy flickery glow, and all the while I’m praying that the little ones don’t wake up because the difficulty of rejoining Mr. Sandman increases exponentially when the air seems deader than the inside of a tomb. I’ve also discovered I sweat buckets at 11:00 at night when working near even the tiniest flame.
I used to begrudge those who experienced nothing more than a blip when the current sagged or disappeared altogether. I think I’ve gotten past that. I don’t wish they didn’t have one because I don’t, and I certainly understand why they use their generators. If I had one, I’d be using it, too.
EACH time, however, I hear a generator roar into life I’m vehemently reminded of something I’d rather ignore…. or perhaps convicted is more accurate…
I balk at the instruction to give thanks in all circumstances, and I see that reality in instant, slow motion replay each time I hear those machines jolt into life. I’m content to growl and complain. In some worldly, twisted way, it brings pleasure of the immediate but temporary kind.
I don’t want to thank the Lord that the local powers that be have once again denied me power.
My father-in-law served for some years in Haiti and tells of visiting a local electric company. Night had fallen, the plant was up on a small mountain outside of town, and he could see the city lights. An employee began pointing out different neighborhoods and then with a sly grin told my father-in-law to watch.
He switched a button; an entire neighborhood went dark. Then he laughed. According to Dad, those guffaws were just shy of the rolling-on-the-floor-laughing-out-loud kind.
I won’t assume something similar goes on here. And I can live and still function adequately with this particular frustration common to the expat experience of life in an impoverished, still-developing locality.
I can also willingly choose to refuse to give thanks.
We’ve had a smattering of power outages in recent days and weeks. More than normal. Each time I hear the neighboring generators roar into life, a still small voice calls to mind my own words: “I don’t want to thank the Lord that the local powers that be have once again denied me any power.” The voice doesn’t stop there, however. It continues, whispering, “It isn’t the electric company denying you power. You’ve done it to yourself, by not choosing gratitude.”
Not only am I stumbling and sweating it out without electricity, I’m also self-rendered powerless spiritually, choosing to be a victim of circumstances when God offers me joy and contentment.
Just like that dude at the electric plant in Haiti, by refusing gratitude, I’m flipping a switch, laughing… and plunging myself and those around me into darkness.
Choosing gratitude, however?
Choosing gratitude siphons any clout out of darkness. It leaves opportunity for vibrating voltage, exhilarating energy, and contagious current.
An electrical stream of thankfulness pulsating powerfully can provide perspective and light for me as well as for those nearby.
William Faulkner noted:
“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.”
Faulkner was absolutely right…
What, in your life, reminds you of those times you reject a thankful spirit?
As you celebrate Thanksgiving, not just this week but throughout the year, how are you intentionally producing, discharging and using up gratitude?
– Richelle Wright, missionary in Niger, W. Africa