IVP - Strangely Dim - But If Not

November 19, 2012

But If Not

By Suanne Camfield

I had my morning all mapped out: a quick edit on my Strangely Dim Thanksgiving post (set to go live today), a slew of emails returned, a large dent on some research for another project I was working on, an early lunch and I'd be in the office to hit "publish" on this post by noon.

Except when I flipped open my laptop to get my super-productive morning kicked off, I realized I hadn't saved the most recent version of my gratitude-induced post. In fact, I hadn't saved anything even close.

After two hours of trying to recover the file (a whimsical yet thoughtful IVP twist on my favorite holiday classic, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving), I emailed my buddy and co-contributor Dave to tell him I'd be a little late with our pre-Thanksgiving entry. His reply came swiftly, "Ach. That sucks. Happened to me this morning as well. Gonna be hard to be thankful this Thanksgiving."

Funny, right? The irony of his humorous little quip is how precisely it captured what I had already planned on quipping about myself--a cultural leaning (or perhaps just a human one) to extend gratitude only as high (or as low) as our current circumstance. Or if we're really getting down to it, our cultural leaning to equate the goodness of God with our pile of stuff.

Insert Linus' prayer from A Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving here.

Don't get me wrong. In a few days, I will be overflowing with gratitude for both my circumstances and my stuff. I will sit on my in-laws' couch, enjoying a rare third cup of coffee, inhaling the childlike enthusiasm of my kids all sprawled on the floor as they watch the Macy's Day parade. I will hold hands with people I love around a table buckling with food and, with warmth in my bones, I will lift up a prayer of thanks for every last bite.

At the same time, I will remind myself of the slippery slope of thanksgiving--proclaiming God's goodness based on our own abundance rather than his. After all, no home or person or sweet potato casserole is guaranteed an invitation year after year. But the true goodness of God, those attributes that reside in his character--generosity, trustworthiness, holiness, love, justice, mercy and self-sacrifice--these are a safe bet every time. (Thanks to James Bryan Smith for so eloquently pointing this out in The Good and Beautiful God.)

Several years ago my husband brought home a worship CD produced by Student Impact at Willow Creek Community Church. The chorus of one song in particular still runs through my head, both on everyday mornings like today when life doesn't go as planned and in my more reflective moments pondering life's greatest gifts.

The song goes like this:

If today brings only pain and sorrow

And my heart says there is no tomorrow

I lift my hands to you and ask in my small voice

That you would come to save me

I know it's your choice

But if not

I'll still call you father

I'll still call you Lord

I'll still praise your name forever

No matter what life brings

If tonight my eyes close and I'm alone

l'll ask you to comfort me

ask you to send your angels down and rescue me

But if not . . .

This Thanksgiving, I hope your table is surrounded with friends and family and overflowing with food. I hope your job is plentiful, your children are thriving and your adventures are successful. I hope your health is strong, your mind is sharp and your soul is full with love, laughter and life. I hope your turkey is juicy.

But if not . . .

Posted by Suanne Camfield at November 19, 2012 12:44 PM Bookmark and Share


You ROCK Suanne! Well done! I'm your girl forever. Xxoo elisa

Comment by: Elisa Morgan at November 19, 2012 9:25 PM

perfectly put! thanks for sharing.

Comment by: Lesa Engelthaler at November 20, 2012 8:55 AM

Thanks Elisa and Lesa for taking the time to drop a comment and for saying something nice : ) Elisa, back at you for sure! Happy Thanksgiving to you both!

Comment by: Suanne at November 20, 2012 12:14 PM

Thank you for your thoughtful words, Sueanne. A very blessed Thanksgiving day to you.

Comment by: Ann Elliott at November 22, 2012 6:47 PM

Comments are closed for this entry.

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a writer and copyeditor on the communications team for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a founder of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs occasionally at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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