00000 Million – (Bon Iver)
It was around this time last year…the same week before Thanksgiving. I remember it was going to be my first Thanksgiving back home in Mississippi since returning from Delaware. And it was on this week in 2015 when I first had the chance to hear a good man give a powerful message of “thanks…” I am proud to say this man is now one of my good friends…I even had the honor and opportunity to serve alongside him spreading hope behind the walls of Mississippi State Parchman Penitentiary earlier this year ( #14 – Delta Divine). And just a few days ago I heard him give his last message at his church…but it will not be the last message from him…because he is being called to a new church, a new home, and a new mission.
If I can be honest, 2015 was the first year in my life when I truly felt the power of Thanksgiving, and what it really meant for thanks given… Thanksgiving was originally celebrated as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. I grew up celebrating thanksgiving every year just as most typical American families do – It was always the gathering at a family members house…with more food than you can imagine…maybe watching a good football game, hanging out with extended family, trying not to go too crazy, etc… But I sadly have to admit that my whole life I don’t think I ever properly recognized it…we would always say a prayer but I never truthfully expressed any real thanks the way I feel I should have…
This time last year I walked into that local church to hear my friend preach…I remember sitting about the third row…and thinking how I didn’t even go to church for about 6 years when I was in my darker days…but I was listening to his words, and they were all about the meaning of being thankful…But he didn’t talk about the holiday part of Thanksgiving…he didn’t speak from a story from the Bible, he spoke about the life and story of Corrie Ten Boom (a Dutch watchmaker and Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II) Corrie Ten Boom was imprisoned for her actions and sent to concentration camps where she held these secert worship services using a Bible she had managed to sneak inside. The barracks that she shared with her sister and many of the other women were overly infested with fleas…they battled the pains from these fleas day in and day out…Just when they thought they could not take it any more…they began to pray and thank God for these fleas…as they soon figured out that their supervisors in the camps slowly began to stop entering their barracks because of the intense and awful conditions plagued by thousands of these tiny fleas. They discovered they were actually being protected from the constant, horrific abuse and harrasment from the supervisors because of the fleas…AND because of this they were able to pray, study the Bible, and give thanks…they gave thanks for the fleas in their life…Those women, who were being broken down to the point of losing every reason to show love, were thankful for fleas.
It was in those meetings that there was true thanks given…
What kind of fleas do we have in our life? Can we be thankful for them? How can we begin to love and give thanks every day? Do we really believe we should give thanks? What does it mean to truly be thankful? Can we be thankful in times when trouble is near?
“I worried bout rain and I worried bout lightning, but I watched them off to the light of the morning. Marking the slope slung low in the highlands…where the days have no numbers. If it’s harmed, it’s harmed me, it’ll harm, I let it in.”
Justin DeYarmond Edison Vernon is a Grammy-Award winner, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He is most known as the primary songwriter and performer for his band Bon Iver. Vernon battled a tough fight one year with mononucleosis hepatitis, and was forced to spend several winter months in his father’s cabin in Wisconsin…it was there that while he was bedridden he came up with the name Bon Iver for his next music venture. It is from the French phrase Bon Hiver, meaning “good winter.” He discovered this watching episodes of the 1990s show Northern Exposure. He decided to shorten Bon Hiver to Bon Iver because “Hiver” reminded him too much of the word “Liver”, which was the source of his illness at the time. Track “00000 Million” is track #10 meaning 1,000,000, A Million. With his latest album full of soul-searching and song titles referencing prayer and God, Vernon states, “When you use enough of that language, it perks some people’s ears up…music has been my religion. It’s been my way of understanding…but I know that it’s an ongoing thing. The river does not end.”
Psalm 22:11 | Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near, and no one else can help me.
I briefly want to tell you how I came across this verse for today’s blog…and once again this is a true story of how God speaks to me, not only in my life, but how he has guided me through this 1ØVE journey, and I just have to share it with you. I have been a long fan of Bon Iver…I just love his music and I really love how bold he is in his lyrics and some can be explicit but he is a great writer…Well I was reading about his new album and the significance of the number 22 used throughout his album and how he came across it. In the booklet he even uses a passage of Psalm 22. Well ten minutes after I was done reading about that, my daily devotional app popped up on my phone and when I opened it the message was titled “God Be Near” and the verse?…You guessed it…Psalm 22:11. Coincidence? Nah man…that’s God telling me He is always there with me, and He has always been there by my side…walking with me…talking with me…
Last year around this time when I was sitting in that church and heard my friend give that sermon on true thanks and tell the story of Corrie Ten Boom it really just opened up my eyes and mainly my heart. It made me so thankful for everything God has blessed me with… I know tomorrow is not promised to any of us and it is important to remember that. I went home and all I could think about was how thankful I was for just every thing. And I don’t have many things. My journey has been long, there have been ups, there have been downs, I’ve been to places I never thought I would be, I have been in situations I never want to be in again…but through it all, through all the fleas in my life…I am thankful…truly. The verse at the bottom today sums it all up. In every single thing in your life…give thanks! You might just start to see how loving each other even when you are covered in “fleas” can cause others to be thankful. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year and often overlooked but I pray this year is different. This year I am thankful for the people in my life and for the direction God has given me. There is a lot of thanks given around this time of year…and my prayer is that we also find something else to be given… = LOVE. Nothing is impossible…
1 Thessalonians 5:18
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
(Feature post photo by Annie Spratt)
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