Most parents can relate to the disappointment that we feel when we shopped in five different stores, dodging traffic, and being bone-tired from waiting in the long lines and then two days after Christmas, finding the SUPER-DUPER-GOTTA HAVE IT-MOST WONDERFUL CONTRAPTION IN THE WORLD toy thrown over into the corner. Worse yet, when asked, they say- "I don't know where it is!" UGH!! I am not finding fault with wee ones today because they must be steered into the direction of thankfulness. Parents must model and teach it to them because they don't arrive on Planet Earth as very thankful little creatures, do they? We are seeing in this generation, just as Paul told Timothy, that people in the last days would be unthankful and they are more and more about their sense of entitlements and "give me, give me" attitudes than maybe ever before. Even we, Christians in America, have been so blessed that we tend to focus more on what we don't have than being humbled and grateful for what we do have.
I bought a book (can you imagine?) last week in the Christian bookstore by an unfamiliar author but the title kept drawing me back to the shelf where her writings resided- One Thousand Gifts- A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are. Let me share a quote which resonated heavily with me. "Here dies another day during which I have had eyes,ears, hands And the great world round me; And with tomorrow begins Another.WHY AM I ALLOWED TWO?" G. K Chesterton- Collected Poetry- Part 1. How many people do you know who realize and live that truth as opposed to the "I have my rights" attitude today? We are all about what is fair, like children. Have you heard those words from their lips before? "That's not fair!" We tend to talk so much about the adversities instead of the blessings. Let me give you a timely example right now and it doesn't apply to people who have to work outside. I found myself the other day complaining about the oppressive heat this early in June. Do you know what I did that particular day? I woke up in an air conditioned house, drove an air conditioned automobile to the too cool air conditioned Longhorn and then to the air conditioned grocery store and back home to a cool house. What is my problem? I asked myself. Our flesh leans toward complaining and murmuring like the Israelites who were tired of the manna. They had forgotten how bad that Egypt was!
Just last week while reading in the Gospel of Luke in chapter 17, God spoke to me through His Word again when I meditated on the ten lepers who were as good as dead from a loathsome disease and ostracized from everyone except other lepers. They cried out to Jesus for mercy and in an instant He healed them and only one, a Samaritan, returned to give Him thanks. We look at them and think how could they be that ungrateful? Yet, I look in the mirror some days and realize that I am in their camp. I was dead and on my way to Hell and He died in my place and now I am on my way to Heaven and on top of that, He daily loads my life with benefits and what does the world see if we are people who, as a rule, complain instead of praise?
The author of the aforementioned book started a journal, really keeping it by her wherever she was and began to record one-lined blessings as she went about her day as a busy and tired wife of a farmer and six home-schooled children. She reached 1000 gifts as she would thank God for simple things like toothless smiles from little boys, still warm cookies out of the oven, hair bows holding back curls, and Mama delivering chicken soup to the back door. I remember a lady that was in one of my S.S. classes once reminiscing about the time I taught on gratefulness and remarked that instead of complaining of how much laundry we have to do that we should be grateful for the clothes. It must mean we are amply clothed and yes, I know that throwing them into an automatic washer and dryer can just exhaust us, can't it? I remember the first one I saw my Momma using, yes, that one where you sent them through this contraption piece by piece to wring the water out of them and she was grateful she wasn't washing them down at the creek like Caroline Ingalls did.( Yes, I love Little House on the Prairie). I loved the tenor of Ann Voskamp's thought of how we take the little things for granted like watching the sunrise this morning from my comfy recliner that the kids gave me one Christmas with a hot cup of coffee flavored with Irish Creme. I intend to follow her lead because see, I would love to have something like that from my precious Mother- things that she enjoyed and saw God in every day. Yes, you can find Him even in your picnics, I read on John Piper's blog one day last week. This morning, I began with "I am thankful for the gift of a compassionate dentist who will see me on the same day." I have a jaw ache this morning and I don't know if it is from a tooth or Lyme affecting another joint but when I wrote the words down that medical expertise is five minutes from my house, I realized how blessed that I am. John Piper says- ""that there are eyes in pencils and in pens." I think it does help clarify when we write it down, at least, it works for me.
Lord, help us, as your dear children, to not throw our gifts into the corner or forget about them as time goes on but rather be reminded each day of your past grace in our lives and be reassured of the future grace that is promised. Help me, Heavenly Father, to live in a way that others know by observing that I serve a faithful, gracious, and giving Lord "Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." Thank you, Lord, for Your blessings on me! Help us not to miss You even in the seemingly little things. Are there really any little things when it comes to You and Your gifts?
- DeborahI just entered my second of 1000 gifts list- thankful for you who read because it gives me a way to minister and hopefully glorify my Lord!