He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. - Deuteronomy 8:16
On Sunday night, I was looking forward to testing out my new peppermint shower gel - a housewarming gift from a friend - in a nice warm shower. I love long, relaxing showers, but since we decided to increase the water pressure from our new showerhead by removing the flow inhibitor, I am limited to a mere ten minutes of hot water, which doesn't leave much time for relaxing, especially with long hair to wash. And that night, instead of turning from warm to hot, the shower water felt cool against my hand. As I was pondering this chilly fact and whether I should risk showering in the cold, Don discovered that the furnace was off. We were out of oil...again. My shower would have to wait.
We had to fill the tank when we first moved in, but apparently it only took us six weeks of keeping the thermostat set in the 60's to run out of heating oil. We woke up to 50 degree temperatures on Monday morning, and I was very thankful that my sister-in-law lent us some space heaters to keep us from freezing before the oil delivery arrived that afternoon. While the boys didn't seem to even notice the change in temperature and would have willingly gone barefoot on the tile floor, I was definitely cold. Once the heat was finally back on and into the mid-60's, it felt quite toasty to me. Even before the much anticipated oil truck pulled into our driveway, I was thankful that though we were without heat, we still had electricity. I could cook, run (cold) water, use the computer, and turn on music for the children; I just had to wear an extra layer while doing those things. It was cold, but it could have been so much worse!
No matter how thankful I may think I am, going without something inevitably helps me to appreciate it more. Another example: my laptop is finally fixed, after being in the repair shop for a month and having issues for a few weeks before that. I have gotten used to the desktop now, so being able to blog from any room in the house will be quite exciting! Likewise, after living without a working dishwasher for the first two weeks we were here, I had a deeper appreciation for the wonders of automatic dishwashers (and in the interim, was quite thankful for paper plates!). And after sharing one car for nearly a year now, I am sure that whenever Don and I get a second vehicle, there will be a wondrous sense of possibilities when it comes to outings and scheduling conflicts.
This week, the boys and I read the story of the Israelites in the desert from their children's Bible. We rehearsed the details of the 40 year menu: nothing but quail and the mysterious bread from heaven they called manna. In thinking about it more seriously, I realized that I would not want to eat the same two items for 40 days, nevermind 40 weeks or months or years! Imagine the Israelites who did get to enter the Promised Land after living on manna for years, or maybe their entire lifetime. They must have been bursting with excitement at the dietary choices available in the land flowing with milk and honey. Shouldn't I be just as thankful for the options available to me as I stroll through our local supermarket?
Lately Donny requires a lot of encouragement to pray, but that night, even his childish heart willingly thanked God: for his food and home, that we got to move close to our family and friends, and that we don't have to live in the desert and eat manna and quail. The next morning's grace summarized it, "Dear God, thank you that we don't have to do all that Egyptian stuff."
There is so much to be thankful for, even when the things we take for granted are taken away. And the Lord provides, whether with the warmth of space heaters or the sustenance of bread from heaven, in order that we may learn to trust Him, to turn to Him with a grateful heart, and give Him the glory. As the children and I learned from Madame Blueberry on Veggie Tales, "A thankful heart is a happy heart." And when I hear my two year old singing those words as he toddles down a warm-enough hallway in bare feet, my heart is truly thankful.