• Jim Farrell

Giving Thanks in Different Times and Places

I’ve never been in the desert for Thanksgiving—I mean literally in the desert! Kathy and I are currently living among the cactus at Desert Gardens RV Park in Florence Arizona, about 60 miles southeast of Phoenix. For this Pennsylvania boy, it’s turf and temperature like I’ve never known in the month of November. We are parked here, Lord willing, until April 1, when we expect to get back on the road again for the 2020 season. We join family and friends from afar this year, giving thanks in a different time and a different place.

The different time is the current season of our lives. Our life is not what it used to be. It’s not what we were used to doing with family, church family, and friends, particularly at Thanksgiving in November. O, we will still have a turkey meal with trimmings on Thanksgiving Day, but we will barely know those with whom we break bread, because it will be our current community of similarly nomadic, potential “family and friends.”

We have met some wonderful people across 8,000+ miles, 22 states, and 42 RV parks and campgrounds, traveling from February to November 5 when we arrived in Desert Gardens in Florence Arizona. So, life is certainly different. It feels very different. There is excitement and adventure in it! God has given and is giving us incredible opportunities to connect with people—people we never knew and may never see again, but with whom in the Lord’s providence we are now connected and sharing a bit of life. We hope that our life and joy in the Lord makes a faithful witness. For even though this season of life is new and different, the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

The different place as I’ve already said is Southwest U.S. My “yard” does not have a blade of grass in it. That’s really different for me.

I’ve been introduced to barrel cactus and saguaro (pronounced sawauro) cactus and prickly pear cactus. We've eaten prickly pear cactus jelly. I share my yard with 2-inch Pepsis wasps—aka the Tarantula Hawk wasp. Supposedly non-aggressive but also has the most painful sting of any insect. We are staying away from them.

Temperatures are pleasant; sunsets spectacular. We are driving about 30 miles round trip for groceries and gasoline; Kathy drove 80 miles round trip to see a hairdresser, and we’re still looking for a church with whom to worship, which may also end up being an 80 mile round trip.

So, living in a different time/season of life, in a different place I’ve never been, among people I don’t know, with critters and cactus and customs I’ve not experienced - what about giving thanks?

Why, yes of course! Giving thanks is for every time and place! Giving thanks is not bound by time (life situation or season), and/or place. As a matter of fact, thanksgiving can be enriched when the season and the place of life are not what they once were. One has to think about giving thanks with more deliberation, and less traditional predictability.

God has been faithful, and His faithfulness and provision keep showing up in new places and situations, among new people and experiences. It is in God’s nature to do that. Gifts of His undeserved grace abound! And for that we must always say with great conviction, “Thanks be to God! For he is good; his faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1)

…and the journey continues.

-Pastor Jim

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