Oh Give Thanks- Mini Lessons from Ghana 12 07 12
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)”
Hello Everyone! I wondered what my first devotional back from Ghana would be and although there are several things I want to share with you from my time there (which I will over the next few weeks), I feel lead to share these “mini” lessons I learned first. We have so much to be thankful for in our lives and I hope these will give you pause to reflect and acknowledge God’s hand in your lives and throughout humanity. For those that want to see pictures from Ghana, please click here for the album posted on Facebook.
I give thanks today for paved streets, the white line down the middle of the road, and not having craters (bigger than pot holes) in the road every few feet. I give thanks for the freeway where a 2 hour drive doesn’t take 7 hours.
I give thanks for drinkable water that doesn’t make me sick – give me diarrhea or stomach cramps.
I give thanks for electricity that is always on; never having daily black outs that last from minutes to hours to days.
I give thanks for my panties and bras, not just clothes, but undergarments so that I am not completely naked and can go to CHURCH clothed. Not everyone has the basics in the world.
I give thanks for water pressure that makes the water come out the faucet and when I cut the water on that it’s always clear- never brown or black. That I’ve never had to brush teeth, clean my body, or cook with dirty water.
I give thanks for the opportunity to visit the homeland of my ancestors and to see/recognize just how much WE were robbed and raped as a people…an entire continent plundered. There has never been a greater atrocity of humanity than the slavery and methodical disenfranchisement of Africans throughout the world. Ever.
I am thankful that I serve the MOST HIGH GOD and that Jesus is my Lord and Savior, because I have met those that practiced fetishes (witchcraft) and they may have had power, but it wasn’t THE POWER. And when they met THE POWER their lives have been forever changed.
I give thanks to be able to drive between cities/states in this country without there being an armed military guard and stop point present before entry into a town. Because even if it’s for “show”, the threat of armed guards intimidates all citizens.
I give thanks for living in America. Where my vote counts and no matter how vicious we are with each other during elections, that our election process is peaceful. It gives new meaning to the term “peaceful election” when you are around those who understand voting CAN be life or death.
I am thankful to have met and stayed with our hosts an African American missionary couple, the Chinn’s, who left America and life as they knew it 8 years ago to move to Nkwanta, Ghana to follow God; counting the costs and realizing there was nothing to do but follow Christ. I am thankful for their example in service, sacrifice, and obedience. Lessons we could all learn.
I am thankful that I realized how selfish I was one day and that none are righteous, not one. You see I gave MY Bible away. It was MY pretty, yellow, notes filled Bible and when someone asked me for it; the flesh wanted to refuse (my first response) but the Spirit reminded me that I carry the Word in my heart. I gave HIS WORD away that day. Even when you are following Him, you MUST always be on guard against the enemy.
I am thankful that my mission trip was more than a trip or a story to be told. It was an experience beyond words and another love letter from God.
I give thanks to all of those that supported me financially and spiritually through prayer and I thank all of you who read these and allow me to share my experiences in Christ with you.
I am THANKFUL that God used me; that I was able to stand before Sisters in Christ and tell my testimony; that I was able to speak about being “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: Recognizing Your Worth”; that I was able to kneel before the some of the women in Nkwanta, Ghana and cleanse, lotion, and massage their hands, while praying for them individually just as Christ did for the disciples. I am THANKFUL that I was called to serve.
Lastly, I give thanks to My Father for loving me, My Lord Jesus Christ for saving me, and the Holy Spirit for convicting, leading, and guiding me…while I am yet a redeemed sinner.
What are you thankful for?
In all things give thanks,
Shaniqua & the Great Is Team
Dancing before the Lord 121012
“And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment… David retorted to Michal, “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!” 2 Samuel 6:14, 21-22
After Friday, I wondered if I would still send this devotional. Although I had started to write it because of an experience I had in Ghana, I truly understand being sensitive to where the Holy Spirit moves me as I write. Yet as I went about my weekend, nothing new came to my spirit. I wondered why? Perhaps the reason is because although the tragedy of Friday still remains, there also remains reason to acknowledge the goodness of the Lord.
I am not a shouter in church although these past few years I have been moved at times to “whoop”. But if there is one place I allow my emotions to show, it is church because I am in the Lord’s presence and I remind myself there is no shame for tears before Him. And although I experience great joy in my walk and love for the Lord, I have never been that much of a demonstrative person in my praise. Nor have I ever been moved to dance. So each time I read these scriptures, I didn’t understand just what made David let loose and dance before the Lord. Many times, I would see someone dancing and praising or at times even running around the church and I thought, “It doesn’t take all of that.”
Yet as I write this, I reflect upon the church services we attended in Ghana and how the women and men danced for The Lord. They danced with such joy and abandonment that it caused me to wonder why I had never danced liked that. But one night, I did. Someone pulled me to the floor and I got out my seat and danced for The Lord. I didn’t dance for myself. I didn’t dance to the latest jam. I didn’t dance to entice a man. I simply danced for the Lord. Why? Because I have experienced the sorrows of life, the harshness of life, and the reality of life; I now recognize that at times, true worship does require that type of expression. It requires it because when you are in the midst of or are on the other side of whatever life situation you find yourself, all you can do is praise and worship however the Spirit moves you.
This is why David danced before the people, his subjects, and before the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of God. David had experienced war and death, betrayal and deceit; he had lived homeless in caves and stood before giant enemies. Before David was installed as king, he had experienced more than many of us ever will. But at the same time, he was in the midst of experiencing the hand of God. And as he experienced Him, David celebrated because of all God had done and had yet to do.
I wish I could tell you when I danced in Ghana, I danced with abandon, but I didn’t. Instead I was more reserved than my Ghanaian sisters, but I still got up and danced. Because dancing and laughing for God in that moment, gave me an extra measure of peace; an extra measure of joy; and it created an atmosphere of being in the Lord’s presence.
When I think back on all the times that I thought “it doesn’t take all of that”, I realize that it DID. Not to say one person’s testimony is greater than another, but I realize those that dance have something to dance about. Those that shout have something to shout about. Those that run around the sanctuary have something to run about.
I don’t know what you’ve been through nor your story, but I know that I will no longer judge your praise. More importantly, if you’re like me, I pray that you lose yourself in the abandonment of praise and worship. In the midst of your praise and worship, there is healing. There is peace. There is a celebration. There is the Most High God who deserves our uninhibited praise.
Walk with Him,