Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Life of Gratitude….Starting Now!

     Do you ever have one of those weeks where every time you turn around you keep hearing or reading about the same spiritual subject?  I’m having one.  I’m a secretary for our church and sometimes get Power Points ready for our minister.  He emails me the bible verses and I pick out a shell and plug in the scripture.  He sent me one out of Exodus the other day, about when the Israelites were receiving the manna from heaven and decided it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  They started whining with ungrateful hearts and God got angry and taught them a lesson.
    I also just started reading a wonderful book by Ann Voskamp entitled One Thousand Gifts.  I haven’t read very much of it yet, but the part I’m reading now is just getting into why she wrote the book and some revelations that she had about being thankful.  The part I read this morning really captured my thoughts.  It said, “The only real fall of man is his noneucharistic life, in a noneucharistic world.  That was the fall!  Non-eucharisteo, ingratitude, was the fall—humanity’s discontent with all that God freely gives.  That is what scraped me raw:  ungratefulness.”  When she put it that way and with the other message I was getting while working on that Power Point, I was standing at attention.
     That’s what always happens when I get these recurring messages.  After two or sometimes three, I see that maybe God is trying to tell me something.  So here I sat this morning thinking about me and my ungrateful heart.  Feeling sad and sorry, I began to regret the last thirty-nine years of my life.  I was wishing I was a different sort of person with a more positive outlook on life.  I was wishing that I had brought my kids up to see a nicer, sweeter, more gracious mom.  I was lamenting that my husband has seen me at my most negative moments and desiring the magic time machine to come so I could hop in and start all over again.  But that’s not the way life works, is it?
     I can start over right now though.  I can be thankful starting today.  I can strive to live a life with more joy and gratitude.  There will probably be times when I take a step back, but I have to just ask God to forgive me and praise Him with thanksgiving and go right back to a life of gratitude.  There are times when I may not feel thankful, but that’s the best time to try this new approach.  Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”  Sometimes it takes real effort to do this, but have you ever tried it when things were going really bad?  It really does help and save you from despair to focus on your blessings.  In One Thousand Gifts, the author goes as far as to say that it is the gratitude in our faith that saves us.  She refers to the ten leper story where the one came back to thank Jesus, and what was said to him afterward.  Jesus said, “Rise and go, your faith has made you well.”  Not healed, he had already been healed, but well.  In Young’s Literal translation she read that it said, “thy faith has saved thee.”  Wow!
     There are too many advantages to living a life of gratitude to not do it.  Not only is it very important to God and I’m beginning to believe more and more, for our salvation.  Also, it just makes life better.  Don’t you feel better when you have joy in your heart?  Don’t you love to be around others that exude this kind of attitude?  I do too.  I’m listening God, and I will thank Thee.