Opportunities to Learn – and Give Thanks!

I am a Minnesota-born girl. I love winter – when the sun is shining and the snow is white. I love my Minnesota cabin – when it is warm and cozy. I love Minnesota snowmobile trails – when they are groomed and smooth. Notice a pattern?

Recently, I had the opportunity to contemplate my natural bent toward conditional gratitude. In mid-February my husband and I headed up to the cabin (we live in Iowa) for a weekend of snowmobiling. The cabin was warm and cozy when we arrived. Just the way I like it. We opened the water lines and turned on the water heater. We had running water; we had hot water. When we flushed the toilet, however, something was not right. The problem? A frozen septic line. We began trouble-shooting on the internet in search of a solution. Our favorite piece of advice – you CAN resolve this problem on your own IF you have REALLY OLD clothing to wear and LOTS of time on your hands. If not, call a professional. We opted to call a professional. The next morning, we watched how he thawed our frozen septic lines (in case we decided to do it ourselves next time!).

Later that morning, we were all set to hit the trails. The snowmobiles were running smoothly (just the way I like it). I lifted the visor on my helmet to receive last-minute instructions. Snap! My visor was now detached on one side of my helmet. Something else was broken and now needed to be fixed. Another delay. Ugh. After multiple attempts to understand the mechanism on my helmet, we located one screw that had become detached and made the necessary repair.

Broken things. Delays. I don’t ask for either. However, these two experiences taught me a valuable lesson:  broken things provide opportunities to learn. I now know how to thaw our frozen septic line. I now know how to repair my snowmobile helmet. Two pieces of information I would not have taken the time to learn in the absence of brokenness. I am thankful for the knowledge. Doug & I gave thanks for other gifts of grace in each situation. The weather was warm – in the lower 30s. We could have been solving both problems in sub-zero temperatures. My helmet broke before we headed out on the trail, so we had access to the tools we needed to make the repair.

How do you view broken things in your life? Perhaps God is giving you an opportunity to learn how to restore, repair, and rebuild. All areas of life have the potential to break. Scripture instructs us to “Give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Give thanks for lessons learned. Give thanks for His presence, wisdom, and help. Give thanks for others who come alongside to help. Every obstacle presents an opportunity.

Addendum: I composed the content of this article in my head as I was enjoying the first ten miles of the snowmobile trail that day. Feeling wise, insightful, and a bit smug, I looked at the instrument gauges and noticed that the “check engine” light was on. I began to lose the ability to accelerate. I signaled to my husband, who was in the lead, to stop. Once stopped, my snowmobile’s engine refused to start. Using knowledge gained from a previous similar incident, we determined a possible solution. My husband backtracked to a gas station nearby while I waited alone by my sled. “OK, Jen,” I thought to myself, “Give thanks in all circumstances…Don’t just preach about it. Do it!

I smiled, grateful for the wisdom of God’s Word. I gave thanks for the mild temperatures. I gave thanks for the location of the breakdown. (Before the day was done, we would traverse some very remote locations and accumulate nearly 100 more miles on the trails.) I gave thanks for the opportunity to pull out my phone and take photos of things I would not have appreciated had I traveled past them at a high rate of speed. (Yes, I love to drive FAST!) I will share one photo here. And, yes, the sun was shining. And, yes, the snow was white.




Article Submitted by: Jen Vogel, Director, GCW National Executive Team