In my den, I have a large picture window that overlooks my backyard; it is my favorite feature in our house. My man-chair faces this window, and here, I have spent many hours watching the world go by.
For me, that window has provided some of the best medicine. When I return home after a long weekend, engaging with people and their spiritual struggles, I will sit in my chair and stare out. I like seeing the first snowflake as it makes it way to the ground and the earth puts on a fresh white coat. My wife’s ever-so-beautiful flower garden is outside the window, along with a birdbath stocked with fresh water for those winged friends who might want to stop by for a drink. There is no season without something outside that window to entertain me.
As I type this article, I am looking out that very window. I can see the leaves turning colors; fall is now upon us. We just had our first hard freeze, and the flowers are wilting. I can also see and hear the geese as they migrate overhead. I am amazed at the way God has wired nature, each animal instinctively knowing what to do as the seasons change.
But it is not much different inside my home, where the migration of the geese signals the annual migration of our dishes. The plain white plates with the blue ring around the rim have disappeared into hibernation for the winter. Out come plates that are burnt orange, decorated with fall leaves. Yes, the Great Dish Migration has begun. Gone are the stainless-steel salt and pepper shakers we used for the last seven months; two pumpkin-shaped shakers have replaced them.
But these dishes and shakers are with us for only a few weeks. Soon, they too will move off into hibernation, and the annual migration of Christmas dishes will be upon us. In the beginning, we had just two special plates that we used on Christmas Day. Then came more Christmas-themed plates, saucers and cups. They were soon joined by platters, salt and pepper shakers, pitchers and napkins. Then the migration spilled out into other rooms of our house with pillows, wall hangings, candles and mantel decorations. Now, the migration has taken over every room.
The only problem with these dishes is that they don’t move themselves. Yes, I am the one with responsibility for their migration. They are stuffed in the most unusual places in our house. Some are in the shed with the lawnmower; others are in the garage; others in closets around the house; and some are in the attic. They must all be taken down and rotated with the dishes that come off duty, waiting to come back into service. Now, I’m on a mission to thin out the herd.
When did our lives get so cluttered? Not only do animals and dishes migrate, but our hearts must do the same as they migrate toward the things of God.
During this time of year, I pray our heads will head in the right direction. I am thankful for the harvest and for God’s provision. We need not only thank Him for the food on the table and the roof over our heads, but for everything: “In everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:18a, NASB).
And I need to step off the treadmill of life long enough to recognize not only what He has provided but to give glory to the One who has provided it. “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Cor. 3:7, NIV).
At this time of year, I am thanking God for:
1) Hope: What would it be like to live in a world without hope? “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).
2) Family: What would life be without our families? I thank God for my biological family, my church family and my extended family.
3) Dishes: I am thankful not only for the dishes but for the table they sit on. I am thankful for the people who sit around that table, and I am thankful I have enough food to put in those dishes. “After He said this, He took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then He broke it and began to eat” (Acts 27:35).
I pray as we go deeper into this season, my heart will migrate to the place where my life reflects Psalm 9:1: “I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.”