With Everything

Suzie Genin - Co-Pastor

Chapel Valley Church | Madison, WI

Earlier in the year when I was asked to write a devotional in November, I will admit, I was beyond excited simply because November is one of my favorite months of the year.

Between birthdays and Thanksgiving, every week is a reminder to celebrate someone or something.  As I got closer to actually writing this devotional, I found myself back-tracking on what was originally placed on my heart to write: thanksgiving and gratitude. I am not talking about the actual holiday of Thanksgiving, and the traditions I try to carry on including favorite family recipes, but rather the posture of thanksgiving and gratitude. For me it seemed so to cliche of a topic to write about (which I really don’t like to be), but yet, here I am.

In the last week of October many of us across the Heartland District began to experience the sudden slap across our happy fall faces of snow. As the week continued on in Wisconsin, so did the snow.

One morning I read a post that was pretty simple. “If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you’ll have less joy in your life, but still have the same amount of snow in your life.” This made me laugh, and reiterated what I had been compelled to share with you this month. Life is happening, and how we choose to respond doesn’t change the situation–but changes us!

One of my greatest privileges was serving and leading with my husband as camp directors for the Heartland District. There were always certain songs that would become the anthem for the week. As I was preparing to write this, the Lord reminded me of the passion to which the students would sing the song, ‘With Everything” by Hillsong United. I can still see it so clearly in my mind. They would stand in full surrender, arms open wide, singing/shouting out, “With everything, with everything, we will shout for Your glory. With everything, with everything we will shout forth Your praise.” They sang from an encounter they were having, or had experienced. They were singing and declaring that over all circumstances they had been facing, and they wanted their life to glorify God.

Generally teens would walk in not knowing if they could hear God speak. Some came because they may not have wanted to stay home. Others came because they wouldn’t miss a week a camp and friends if you paid them, but in the end they had an encounter with their Creator. They encountered Him through the teaching, worship, the fun and each other.

When they worshiped they postured themselves in humility and gratitude which perpetuated this cycle of encounters with The Lord.  The reality is many went home and that all would become a distant memory or until next camp. Really, I don’t say this with judgment because this often can be me.

I can have a great (or not so great) Sunday, have an encounter, worship with all my heart, and then the pressures of life will creep in, sucking and stealing the joy, gratitude, and what I know to be true; the seeds that have been planted or what I may have heard the Lord previously say.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” As I pondered on this, I decided to look at various versions to see that I could find. Each version said the same thing, Rejoice, pray, give thanks in ALL circumstances— which I am pretty sure all means ALL.

The good, bad, unfair, misunderstood, the ones that worked in your favor and the ones that didn’t. This is a posture that positions us to be in His will and continue to live in a way different than the world we live in. It’s here where we begin to see Him in every circumstance or situation we face. It’s when we turn from our complaining, and decide to choose joy and gratitude.

I’m not suggesting we walk around like Buddy the Elf (from the movie Elf), but it does mean we need to get on another level to see things outside of the situation we are facing.

Just like the teens who wholeheartedly stood who stood with their arms wide open, singing at the top of our lungs for what He has already done. My prayer is we would all have encounter at a new level of thankfulness and gratitude that goes beyond the month we are in, the circumstances around us and what we can see.
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