By Guest Columnist Jehu Brabham
Let me begin my annual Thanksgiving article with a warm happy Thanksgiving greeting to all my fellow Clintonians. I wish you a joyous, peaceful and blessed holiday season.
After reading my annual Thanksgiving article, people always ask, Jehu, what was your inspiration for the article this year? Well, this year I got my inspiration while walking down the candy aisle at Kroger!
As I turned the grocery buggy down the aisle, I immediately heard some high-pitched screaming. Then I saw a small boy lying on the floor, wildly kicking his feet, rowdily swinging his arms and screaming at the top of his lungs, “I WANT IT! I WANT IT! I WANT IT!” As I got close, I could see the little boy had something tightly clinched in his hand. It was a small bag of Skittles candy, and he was not going to give them up. His mother had an almost impossible wrestling match on her hands trying to pry his clinched hand open.
As I walked on by, I said to myself, “This little boy is displaying exactly the attitude I am going to write my Thanksgiving article about. I’ll call it the ‘Clenched Hand Syndrome!’” It was as though the little boy was determined no one was going to deprive him of HIS candy. It was as if that little bag of candy was his most important possession; and, if he lost it, he would have nothing. Fear was taking over, and the Clenched Hand Syndrome was in control.
Like the little boy in my story, don’t most of us clench our hand tightly around the things of life? Instead of being thankful for everything, we are fearful we might lose everything, and be nothing. Friend, genuine heart-felt Thanksgiving loosens our fingers, so that we might reach up to God with open hands. In so doing, we find that letting go of ourselves and all the “things” we think so important opens us up to receive the abundant blessings of God’s Spirit.
Opening up our clenched hands and giving thanks is not something I made up. The Bible clearly tells us in Ephesians 3:20, “Let go and let God have His way in your life, and He will bless you exceedingly, abundantly, above all that you can ask or think.”
I’m still learning about opening up my clenched hands and giving thanks. It isn’t always easy, but here is what Almighty God is teaching me – to give thanks in everything: Jehu, every day you need to take notice of the small gifts of God’s creativity and grace. The way the full moon glistens in the clear Mississippi night. Enjoying my grandsons playing a game of basketball with me in the driveway. Laughing through a water balloon fight with granddaughter Caroline. Giving thanks for my fingers working well enough to wave pom poms at Ole Miss ballgames, and my arms working well enough to give a hug – and get one, too.
Friend, giving thanks for the small gifts of life opens our eyes to notice the more subtle gifts. More and more, we see the remarkable ways in which we are loved and accepted. More and more, we can love and trust in return. More and more, we can give of ourselves, because we know without doubt that our cup is indeed filled to overflowing. Take notice of the small gifts, give thanks for the subtle gifts and OPEN UP THOSE CLENCHED FINGERS.
Friend, what about the clenched hand circumstances of grief, illness, injustice, discouragement and past sins that are scarring your life and suffocating a life of Thanksgiving? Listen up. The cure for the Clenched Hand Syndrome is found in Gods’ love. Spend some time in prayer, and lift your clenched hands to God and ask him to pry them open for you; and keep asking and keep asking and keep asking and keep asking, until one day you notice that the hands you raise to God can wiggle all ten fingers freely. Then, GIVE THANKS, and the Peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Giving thanks reminds us that we are nothing apart from God, and God can be trusted. Giving thanks loosens the grip of our clenched fists, so that we might let go and receive the fullness of God’s Spirit. When our hearts and minds are filled with that which is true and noble and lovely and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy, we will give thanks all the more.
Closing today, I want to thank God for my wife, children and family. Without them, I could not experience the joy in life that I do. I don’t say thank you often enough – perhaps none of us do – but I am thankful for the wonderful people in my life. To my family, a heartfelt thank you, and I love you to my wife Cheryl, sons Grant and Cole, daughters-in-law Anna and Catherine, grandsons Kaden and Knox, granddaughter Caroline, Mama Bryant, Cindi and Ricky Brown, Caren and Gary Taylor, Whitney and Gray Williams, Sadie and Mac, Hannah and Chase Williams and Charlie.
I pray you will join me in claiming the truth of Psalm 138:1, “I will give THANKS with all my heart,” and make this a meaningful Thanksgiving and joyful holiday season.