That field of beans west of the barn, it looked gaunt come end of October, bean pods all hanging like bony ribs.
Whenever the wind sighed, the whole field just rattled skinny.
That’s how my Dad always spoke of a railish man, that you could count his ribs.
Nothing in me wanted to count those beans, know the yield, from this spare field.
When the Farmer rolled the combine in and lowered the combined head to bring those beans in, I sat beside him, raised my voice to ask it above the working engine:
Is it possible that something that doesn’t look like anything — can still amount to anything?
The field, it was hard to even look at.
I’ve known a face in a mirror much like that.
“It isn’t much to look at, is it?”
The Farmer looks up from the combine’s steering wheel, looks across the field to the north.
“Weedy. And thin.”
The white of the sow thistle seeds mingle with the dust. This field had no rain in July and a man can’t make a sky give. He can just make the knees bend and the hands raise.
The harvest looked like a failure.
I’ve known this, been this, am this.
The story of the first thanksgiving —
the first time thanksgiving is ever mentioned in Scripture —
this is what we discover first about thanksgiving:
“And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the LORD.
If he offers it for a thanksgiving,
then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil.
With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread….”
The thanksgiving offering was part of the peace offering and that is the thing:
No one receives the peace of God without giving thanks to God.
Thankfulness is the deep, contented breath of Peacefulness.
Is this why He asks us to give thanks even when things look a failure? When there doesn’t seem much to give thanks for?
The beans rattle through the combine, the auger filling the bin with golden beans like bread rising slow.
There were ten offerings of bread in every Thank-offering of the Israelites.
The first were like crackers.
The second like wafers. These were known for their thinness.
This was the order of thanks.
The thanks began for the thin things, the wafer things that almost weren’t, and the way to give thanks for the people of God is first to give thanks for even the meager and unlikely.
Then it came, thanks for the leavened bread. Why leaven, yeast, that seen in Scripture as impure, unwanted, as part of the thanks-offering?
Authentic thanks is always for all things, because our God is a God kneading all things into a bread that sustains.
Paul gave “glory in tribulations” (Ro. 5:13) and took “pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake” (2 Cor. 12:10), and he knew that which didn’t look like anything good might yield good, all in the hand of a good God.
To bring the sacrifice of thanksgiving means to sacrifice your understanding of what is beneficial and thank God for everything because He is benevolent.
A sacrifice of thanks lays down our perspective and raises hands in praise anyways – always.
A sacrifice is by definition not an easy thing.
There is this:
We give thanks to God not because of how we feel – but because of Who He is.
“See it on the monitor?”
The Farmer points to the screen to the right of the combine’s steering wheel.
“See the numbers, how many bushels an acre? If you didn’t see the numbers – you’d never guess, would you? It’s yielding much more than it looks.” He’s shaking his head in happy wonder.
“Really? How can that be?”
The numbers on the screen defy the seemingly sparse, stunted crop seems and I’m laughing incredulous.
“I know! I know…” The Farmer smiles, glances down at the beans feeding in the combine head, one eye still watching number of bushels on the screen.
He who is grateful for little is given much laughter… and it’s counting the ways He loves, this is what multiplies joy.
The life that counts blessings discovers its yielding more than it seems.
Why don’t I keep an eye on the number of His graces?
Why don’t I want to know that even though it doesn’t seem like there’s been enough rain, He reigns and He is enough and the bounty is greater than it appears?
That the thin places might be the places closest to God and the skinny places might be fuller than they seem and who isn’t full with Christ?
“Look how many seeds were really hiding in this pod!”
Shalom calls to me walking back across the field. “Count them, Mama.”
“Yes.” I say. “Yes, let’s count.”
And there’s this counting the ribs of the field and graces fill unexpectedly and thanksgiving is always this path to inner peace and I see it —
How the Farmer waves to me from the harvest seat, his hand turned willingly up to the sky.
Yesterday Kara Tippetts guest posted here and shared her story. There was healthy conversation. I listened and learned and was grateful.
Humbly listening, learning, and growing from different perspectives with a posture of humility and grace for each other, while sharing our own is important and needful work. We won’t get it all right at all — but I pray we can hear each other’s heart and perspective and live into the tension of hard things?
Tonight that kind of important, gracious work continues. 1 historic night. A global town hall meeting. Q Commons. 60 cities. 10,000 people. You. Please bring you and your people. We need you to pull up a chair and be there for the love of God and Kingdom and such a time as now.
Livestream. 3 national talks. 3 in-person local talks. To engage a wide range of global, national, local issues, to advance the common good in our communities — for us to gather in a posture of grace and humbly speak into the pressing issues of our times because it eternally matters. The national conversations need our thoughtful engagement.
If you care — for the future of your family, your community, your church — we need you, your family, your people for this historic gathering.