Friday, November 29, 2013

the couch story

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving yesterday.  Today I'm linking up with Susannah and Sybil for this month's Faith and Fellowship link-up.
Simple Moments Stick
This month I participated in The Thankful Project and wrote each day about things that I am thankful for.  I've done a lot of reflecting on thankfulness.  But just as important, if not more so, than being thankful for what I have is remembering who to be thankful to.  And so, without further ado, I bring you the couch story.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
- Psalm 100:4 (esv)

My husband and I are fortunate (and thankful) to own this sweet house.  We moved in last summer and have been slowly turning it from a house into a home.  With a limited budget and limited furniture, however, we weren't able to do all that I would have liked to at once.  Our living room was one of those spaces for which we didn't have any furniture, so it sat virtually empty for months. 

At first, I didn't mind the empty space.  We didn't use the room very often and our family room was cozy enough.  But when football season took up the family room TV this fall, suddenly I turned into an impatient child.  I had envisioned the living room as eventually being a great reading room, and started to resent the fact that we didn't have at least two chairs in the living room, or perhaps even a loveseat, where I could retreat during the games.  Next thing I knew, I was terribly unhappy and realized that I needed to check myself.  After all, shouldn't I be thankful that we frankly had too much house to fill with our few belongings?  I was too blind to see how God had blessed us - all I wanted was a couch.  

After spending some time in serious reflection and confessing my materialistic heart to God, I decided to surrender my desire for a couch to Him.  I told Him how I would really like to have a sofa, but then I also gave thanks to Him for all of the ways in which He had already blessed Steve and me in our home.  And I gave up the couch to Him. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. - Philippians 4:6 (esv)

Fast-forward to last week.  When I received an unexpected extra holiday bonus at work, I had a sudden thought to look on Craigslist for a sofa.  After some careful reflection on the nature of my heart (and checking with Steve too), I popped on the website and immediately found the most beautiful set of furniture that was perfect for the room.  And it wasn't just a couch.  It was a couch, loveseat, oversized chair and ottoman - an entire set!  It was the furniture I had dreamed of all along but knew we couldn't afford.  Except this time - we could.  The ad price was almost exactly the amount of my bonus.  I couldn't believe it.

We picked up the furniture on Tuesday evening - the last night we were in town before we left for Texas.  Had we been a day later, we would have missed out on the deal.  But by 6:30pm that night, our living room was transformed.
I share this story not to say that if you ask God nicely, you will always get what you want - because you won't.  But I do share this story because this story is one that only God could have made possible.  Sure, I could have fought tooth and nail to get the sofa that I thought I wanted months ago - and then thanked God for it once I got it.  But by giving up my materialistic desire to Him and instead trying to be thankful for all that He had already given me, I learned so much about myself and about how He works.

God loves to grant our requests.  He gets joy out of bringing us pleasure.  But how much more does He enjoy spending time with us in prayer when we do more than just rattle off a list of what we want!  Through my prayers, I learned more about what God envisioned for the space - a place for conversation with friends and a relaxing setting for quiet times.  A space to serve others coffee and to gather together for prayer.  And His vision eventually became my vision.

I cannot wait to host friends in our living room.  I cannot wait to share God's word in that room.  And I am so incredibly thankful that His ways are higher than my ways... and that I didn't go out and get a couch months ago.  
And above all else, I am thankful that my God is more than just a God who hears requests and grants them.  He is a God who hears the deepest desires of our hearts - even those that we may not know of ourselves - and cares about each of us deeply and personally.  I am thankful for all the ways in which He has blessed my life, but more than anything I am simply glad that He wants to be and is in my life.

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