The Battle Hymn of Thankfulness

Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 9:1-11:32 (don’t forget to pray!)

This is one of the most beautiful versions of the Battle Hymn of the Republic I’ve ever heard! I got tears in my eyes, there’s just something about those beautifully innocent voices that screams my message today! I’m including the lyrics here because there aren’t any in the video, please sing along and vocalize our triumph over the Enemy!

Today is a marching day! (I’ll explain more later.)

So this morning I wake up with the Holy Spirit singing “blood and water flow…” over and over again. Not the entire song mind you, just those four words again and again. Very obviously a message I am to decipher through out my day today, a riddle for me to rejoice in solving, a puzzle to share. Most days I love these riddles, and He knows that, because they always send me deeper into His word, into His truth, into His rapture of discovery. The next thing I do is dig out my copy of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and begin the third chapter (I’m reading this one slowly). Where her friend mentions a list… a list? She hasn’t mentioned a list yet, what is she talking about? I read on. A friend posed to her a challenge – write down a list of one thousand gifts, AHA!!!!! I shriek with joy, “GOD YOU ARE SO AWESOME!!!!!” When I picked up this book I had no real idea what it was about I just knew that God had been pointing me to it for a while and that I therefore needed to read it. Only mere days ago I felt so drawn to counting my blessings, perhaps… because that’s what the Spirit spoke to me that morning, maybe that was why I felt drawn to do it! (Ugh! Sometimes I’m such a forgetful goofball!) Anyway, so here I have two pieces to the puzzle, blood and water flowing together and a list of one thousand blessings – or “God sightings” we’ll call them, a list of places where our eyes have SEEN God’s hand at work.

I go to pick up my Bible to do my reading for the morning, a little later than usual but routines are not meant to be set in stone. I read and read and read and finally come across the message that strikes the strings of my heart with a chord that makes me want to sing: “For your eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD that He did.” (11:7) Again, God shining a light on what He is having me do! What was it that I said over and over again in Overflow while I was counting my blessings from the previous week? “My eyes have seen…” Over and over and over again my eyes have witnessed miracles through the lens of my camera, for your benefit and mine. While God called Ann Voskamp to write down a list (I hear she’s a photographer too so there’s a definite chance that she took several pictures along the way), He has called me to capture as many as I can on film and document them through this blog! So now I have been doubly challenged! Read through His word in a year and write about how it has changed me AND take pictures of the journey and catalog the miracles I’ve seen. Because my eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD that HE did! Oh, the things that He does for us every day; those things that all too often we miss, or pass by, without regarding them with the thankfulness that they deserve.

As I sit cross-legged on my bed, Bible in my lap, pondering about how “blood and water” fit into this whole puzzle picture of thankfully counting my blessings, the lyrics of yet another song begin to march through my head “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…” I immediately begin my computer humming with action as I pull up YouTube and begin a search for the perfect version of this song. I want to SEE the lyrics, I want to chew them up with my eyes and digest them with my soul, hymns are sermons to song – what is the message of this one? How does it line up with my puzzle for the day? I pull up a version with the music but no lyrics that are sung, only typed out in the comment section below. Hmmmmm….. I pull up another, words and music but no typed lyrics, sigh… sometimes the hunt can be exhausting. I try another link on the sidebar, this one looks promising, there’s a picture of Jesus on it. As the clip begins it explains the premise behind the video, an elementary and high school choir singing together along with a few key instruments, patriotism in schools is not dead yet. Hallelujah. As the song begins to ring out with a characteristic marching drum beat the pure innocent beauty of elementary student’s voices rings out the pure truth “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, He is tramping out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored, He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword, His truth is marching on…”. We HAVE seen the glory of the Lord, when He squashed those grapes filled with His wrath into the most precious of wines – His Spirit, which He HAS loosed as a fateful lighting through His terrible swift sword – His truth IS marching on. His truth is marching on through US. And the funny thing about this puzzle today is that all these elements, blood, water, blessings, thankfulness they all tie together in this song. The Battle Hymn of the Republic!

They all tie together through the victory that Jesus won for us on the cross. Without that single game-changing moment in history none of these things would be possible. There would be no blessing beyond the curse; there would be no Holy Spirit of Truth for all who believe in His name, there would be no heaven, no forgiveness, no close communion with the God of all creation – only knowing Him from afar. That, I think, is the saddest thought of all. No intimate relationship with the One who created you. No intimate relationship with the One who created it all, it makes me want to weep. I can’t imagine a day where I don’t feel the Holy Spirit’s nudge to speak up or to do the right thing at the right moment. I can’t fathom not feeling His sweet breath upon the flesh of my heart as He whispers “I love you” through the glistening dew on the petals of my favorite flower and its powerful perfume intoxicating my being as I inhale its delicate freshness. I am thankful for the morning praise songs of the birds consuming the air of this crisp spring morning with their cheerful tunes – Good morning Lord, I love You too!

There ARE so many many many things surrounding us that we can be thankful for!

We need only to open our eyes and see them, take the moment to appreciate them, to allow them to surround us in His glory and see it for what it really is! They may be small in size, but large in worth. God made this creation for me to ENJOY, yet so often I get so busy with the dealings of my life that I walk right past them and miss them entirely. I get so busy and preoccupied with driving the car that I miss the feel of the wind in my hair, caressing my cheek, whispering “I love you!” I get so busy preparing the meal that I miss the arousing aromas wafting through the air tickling my nose with the tempting excitement of the coming culinary treat. I get so busy with the task of cleaning that I miss the pleasure of the feel of the warm water wrapping its silky softness around my hands, I miss the gift of a house that needs cleaning, I miss the sound of a child’s laughter in the bathtub as she plays.

Sometimes the noise of my life drowns out the song of praise that creation is singing all around me and I miss it entirely; I miss the opportunity to sing along.

Oh Papa please help me! I don’t want to miss any more! I don’t want to forget to praise, I don’t want to neglect being thankful, Lord please save me from the noise and deliver me to the song! I want to SING! I want to sing YOUR praises, I want to sing Your victory, You have already won, I am already there with You in victory. It may not seem that way to my eyes, my circumstances may not speak that truth, but Your word does and Your Spirit testifies to that truth. WE have won the victory over the Enemy; he just hasn’t figured it out yet! And that is why I will choose to sing this Battle Hymn of Thankfulness today, that is why I will sing a marching song, because it is through the march of thankfulness that we declare victory over the World and its darkness. It is through counting ourselves blessed that we declare the truth through our actions. Taking the time to notice the “I love you” planted within His creation, is marching against the Enemy it is tramping out those grapes creating the wine of the Spirit of Light and Life. Gratitude conquers all! Because love rejoices in the truth, the truth that God loves you, the truth that He is for you and not against you. Being thankful by enjoying His gifts within creation expresses gratitude toward the giver! When I give my children a gift it is not their verbal thanks that I enjoy the most, they are simply a platitude. What I enjoy and delight in the most is watching them USE their gifts, delighting in them. I love watching them play with the toys that I have given them and I believe that I get that from God – I am made in His image after all! I believe that it brings Him the utmost of joy when we USE the gifts that He has given us, when we USE the freedoms that He died to bring us, when we LIVE in those gifts and freedoms which brings us joy and fulfillment and aids in our ability to express our thankfulness in other forms. Yes my friend, our marching song against the Enemy is living in a constant attitude of thankfulness by enjoying the here and now that we are in, even if the only thing we can find joy in is the wind coursing through our lungs. Be thankful. Life was meant to LIVE.

Categories: Deuteronomy, Writing Through the Bible in a Year

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