Joseph Herrin (11-20-2012)
Thanksgiving is the holiday I enjoy the most in America. Having given up the observance of pseudo-Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter some 13 or 14 years ago, Thanksgiving is one observance that my heart has continued to find acceptable and pleasing unto Yahweh.
In former days I enjoyed large family gatherings on this date, and special celebrations with brothers and sisters at church. The path my heavenly Father has led me on over the past decade and more has resulted in separation from most of those with whom I formerly had fellowship. Embracing the cross and yielding one’s life to go wherever Christ directs will remove one from the broad path that is filled with an abundance of travelers, to that narrow path that few travel down. Of this path Yahshua said, “Few there be that find it.”
As a consequence of surrendering to follow Christ wherever He would lead, I have had the doors of the churches shut to me. I have been denied fellowship and communion among the organized bodies of believers. Many in my family have also broken fellowship, and since my wife and son departed in 2004 I have not attended a Thanksgiving gathering with family. This has not hindered me from expressing my gratitude to Yahweh for His abundant mercy, blessings and provision. I have simply done so alone.
This year I was inspired when a sister in Christ from another state wrote and told me that she had decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner early, doing so in October. I have always enjoyed the food associated with this American holiday. Turkey meat is a favorite of mine. I love mashed potatoes and turkey gravy, dressing, sweet potato souffle, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, and pumpkin pie.
I decided to cook a full Thanksgiving dinner this year, and to ask my daughter Kristin to share it with me. Kristin liked the idea and she contributed the green bean casserole while I cooked the rest of the meal (It was a work day for her). What a feast we had, and I very much enjoyed eating the leftovers for the next week.
I enjoyed this so much, that having had this feast about three weeks ago, I decided to do it again. So, about a week and a half ago I once more cooked up a traditional Thanksgiving menu and ate leftovers for another week.
I had a sense that what I did this year was symbolic in some way. What follows are my reflections on the matter.
The repeating of the Thanksgiving meal speaks of a double portion. Joseph, the son of Jacob (Israel), although being the 11th son of his father, received the birthright. This birthright included a double portion of inheritance from his father.
Then Israel said to Joseph, "Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers. I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow."
Joseph was rejected by his family and lived a very lonely life of bondage and hardship in Egypt while his brothers knew much abundance and freedom. Nevertheless, Joseph remained faithful to Yahweh, and sought to honor Him with his life. Rather than growing bitter, Joseph maintained a heart of humility and gratitude toward God. This is revealed after he was freed from slavery and prison and Yahweh had blessed him with two sons.
Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, "For," he said,"God has made me forget all my afflictions and all my father's household." He named the second Ephraim, "For," he said,"God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction."
It is a remarkable thing that a man who endured so much could “forget” all his afflictions, including the separation from the family he loved. Joseph, however, was filled with gratitude for every act of mercy and kindness bestowed upon him by God. He did not dwell upon his losses, but praised Yahweh for every token of His love and grace.
The words above describe the impulses that I find filling my heart regularly. I am an unworthy son of God. I have many shortcomings, yet daily He extends His grace and mercy toward me. I am aware of Yahweh’s patience as areas of fleshliness in my life have stood far longer than they ought to have. It amazes me that, despite my failings, my heavenly Father showers me with so many gifts and blessings.
I have frequently stopped in the middle of doing something in the converted school bus that is my home to tell the Father how much I like the home He has given to me. I am delighted with it. My heart is full of effusive thanksgiving as I tell my Father “Thank you” for this gift. I have found myself recently sitting outside looking at the beauty of the rural countryside around me and thanking God for allowing me to stay at this place. It is peaceful, and my every need is provided for by the Father. What a remarkable blessing.
On many nights I have gotten up to walk Champ and I have looked up to the canopy of stars. The stars shine brilliantly here in the country away from city lights. I am amazed by this heavenly scene and I find myself expressing praise and thanksgiving to my Father for allowing me to witness His handiwork.
I frequently reflect on the highly unusual life the Father has led me to live. Beginning in 1999 the Holy Spirit made known to me that it was God’s will that I leave my employment in the computer field and begin a full-time ministry of writing. From December 2004 until February 2008 I was directed to lay the writing ministry down and spend a season among the homeless, and addicts, at the Macon Rescue Mission. Since February 2008 I have been released back into a ministry of writing.
I marvel at times that I am actually living out what had been planted into my life as a dream from the time of my youth. I had long wanted to write. I sensed an up-welling inside to write and to teach the truths of the Kingdom of God. It was part of what Yahweh had created me to do. I could never have imagined in earlier days how such a thing would come to pass. I had no wealth to be able to lay aside secular employment to pursue writing. I had no earthly benefactor willing to support me that I might pursue such a calling. Nevertheless, what is impossible with man is possible with God.
Without financial wealth, with no idea where my provision would come from, the Father instructed me to step out in faith and begin to do that which He would show me. I marvel as I look back now and I see that day after day, month after month, and year after year, Yahweh continues to send forth provision which enables me to spend my days in writing of books, blog posts, answering correspondence, mailing out newsletters to men in prison, and various other activities. I stand in awe, truly sensing the kindness received from my Father which has enabled me to fulfill this dream. Thankfulness arises in my heart, and I frequently find myself giving voice to the impulse to tell my Father of my deep gratitude. I am truly unworthy of His mercies which are new every morning.
As I go about my daily activities I frequently find myself considering the myriad of ways Yahweh’s kindness is revealed in my life. Back in May an elderly sister in Christ prayed that God might provide a puppy for me. The story of how this transpired can be found here:
The Father led me to an abandoned puppy that I named Champ. Since being at my present location Yahweh has poured out blessings. There was even an abandoned dog kennel left here that I was able to transform into an outside dog house for Champ to stay in at night. He loves it, and I am grateful for Yahweh’s provision.
I take breaks throughout the day to walk outside and spend time with Champ. He stays faithfully close by, though I let him run freely most of the day. When I come outside he runs up to me with delight and wants to play. A favorite activity we share is playing fetch with a tennis ball.
Champ has learned what the words “Get the ball” mean. When I walk outside and say these words he will immediately begin running around the yard looking for where he last left the tennis ball. When he finds it he comes bounding over to me and wants me to wrestle it away from him. He has a very strong grip, and it is almost impossible for me to actually take the ball from his mouth by force. I have learned a trick, however. I act like I have found a stick, or some other object on the ground and I will reach out to pick up the imaginary object. Champ will drop the ball and try to beat me to grabbing what is actually not there. I then pick up the tennis ball and throw it as far as I can and off he is to the races. We repeat this over and over as he is untiring in this game.
Each day I ride my bike to the mailbox which is about 4 tenths of a mile distance there and back. I let Champ run freely beside me off the leash as he has proven that he will stay close by. As I am riding my bike Champ will be bounding along in the tall grass. He is like a calf skipping from the stall. I am convinced that Champ simply finds delight in the joy of running. At times he will run like a maniac in all directions around me at full throttle. He will cut and swerve and dodge and keep on running as if it was the best activity in all the world.
When I come back from the mail box there is a turn in the road where my bus becomes visible about 500 yards distant. When Champ turns this corner with me and sees the bus he takes off running toward the bus as fast as he can. His ears are low and his feet are flying. He is truly a Champion runner. I burst out laughing every time we turn this corner and I see him take off. At times some comical expression will come to mind, such as “Run, Forrest, Run!”
On many occasions I have found myself spontaneously thanking God for the dog he has given me. My days are spent mostly alone, and it is good to be able to walk outside and have a moment with man’s best friend. I tell God I am thankful that He chose this dog for me. There is nothing remarkable about Champ’s breed, but I sense in him a joy of living that causes me much joy to watch.
(Click Image to View Larger)
The illustration above expresses a thought with which I heartily agree. One day a year is far too little to give to Thanksgiving. Our Father’s blessings are present every day. I have twice had the experience of being put in jail. Consequently, Yahweh has directed me to begin a ministry to men in jail by printing and mailing newsletters to them and carrying on correspondence. As I consider what they wake up to daily, having no freedom to walk outside, or to decide what they will eat that day, having all things regimented and controlled, I am deeply grateful that I have been blessed with abundant liberty.
We often take things for granted until we have them taken away from us. I remember well the joy of being released from jail. Joseph knew this experience, and I am certain that after having spent years in Pharaoh’s prison that he awoke day by day with gratitude in his heart that he was now free. This is the impulse within my own heart. I am deeply grateful, and I like to tell my Father how much I appreciate the freedom I formerly took for granted.
In the fall and early winter of 2004 Yahweh led me through a time of homelessness. He chose for me to experience a time of deprivation as I was led to camp out in the Oconee Forest in Georgia for two 40 day periods. The last week of the first 40 days I had no food. During the last 17 days of the second 40 day period I once again went without food, having depleted what little I had brought with me.
During this time I meditated upon how little I had expressed appreciation to the Father for the abundance of food I had known all my life. At the moment I would have considered a piece of bread and a bowl of soup to be a great feast. I determined that when the Father restored His provision that I would be much more vocal in my thanksgiving to Him. I would find delight in basic, simple meals.
I have kept this mind since that time back in 2004. I not only thank God for my food when I sit down to eat, but during the daytime I will often mention to the Father how thankful I am that He is daily supplying all my need. A bowl of grits and two eggs in the morning is a delightful meal. In sincerity I will tell the Father as I rise from the table how very much I enjoyed it.
People of God, I sense the Father’s approval at the expressions of thanksgiving that have become a regular part of my life. In one sense, I believe that my recently having cooked two thanksgiving meals is a symbol of my life being one that manifests a double portion of thanks to God. In another sense, I take it as a testimony that God has given me far more than I deserve or am worthy of.
In the previous post I wrote about some of my anticipation for the year 2013 and the 113th Congress. Days of distress are coming to America. Her prosperity is even now being rapidly stripped away. Days of leanness are ahead.
This is not a bad thing. When people experience uninterrupted affluence they often take their daily blessings for granted. I believe that in the days ahead many of the sons and daughters of God will learn to put on a heart of thanksgiving for the regular, simple, daily tokens of Yahweh’s kindness that are poured out every day. A people who have been stinting in their thanksgiving, or who have even expressed frequent murmuring and discontent, will learn to be grateful.
This will not be true of all, for many will manifest pride, rebellion, and give expression to their displeasure. They will blame God for their losses, rather than thanking Him for what He does give them.
A remnant comprised of humble sons and daughters, however, will find that thanksgiving is increasing in their hearts. Speaking words of gratitude to God will become a natural expression of their lives. The Father will take delight in what He hears from their lips. I am reminded of the prophet Habakkuk as he waited in anticipation of the days of distress Yahweh had shown him were to come.
I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines; though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food; though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in Yahweh, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. Yahweh God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places.
As I have been at this location I have been seeing deer on the property frequently. Last week I looked up from my computer, out the front window of my bus, and there was a deer standing not far away. I snapped the photo below.
Deer From the Window of My Bus
Yahweh is seeking to bring all His sons and daughters to a place where they might have hinds’ feet. He would that they might be able to scale the mountains of adversity with ease, as if they were a level plain. Putting on a heart of thanksgiving is a key part of the Father’s desire for His sons and daughters. The way of the complainer is bitter, while the thankful can find beauty in the wilderness.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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