Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Give Thanks!

This was part of my devo from this morning in leadership council.  I am so reminded that if we stop being thankful and living in gratitude things quickly become evident what being ungrateful looks like.  There is an anger that simmers in us that can erupt into full blown anger when things don't go the way we want them to, when we are inconvenienced, when lines are long, unexpected expenses happen, something in our home or car breaks down,  we become hyper sensitive to words and actions by others and basically we find ourselves out of sorts and unhappy about many things.  No wonder the Psalms are filled with thanksgiving because we need to be reminded of all we are and have by the grace of God. 

Many homes in our neighborhood have had Christmas lights up for several weeks.  One home several streets over still has a few remnants of Halloween decorations in the yard.  The lady across the street has this turkey with a pilgrim hat hanging from one of her trees.  This slightly weird and disturbing decoration is the only Thanksgiving themed yard I've seen.

I am sure that most of us have fall décor adorning the inside of our homes.  I put out all of our fall items on Labor Day weekend because this is my favorite time of year.  With college football games starting and fall colors trimming tables and fireplace mantles, it feels like fall on the inside of our home but  once we step out the door, we are dealt the harsh reality; that the temperature says summer is still here.

 Somewhere between Halloween and Christmas, Thanksgiving is losing out. 

Thanksgiving is diminishing and is being replaced with the emphasis of Black Friday. The Christian view of living a life of giving thanks is being replaced with more emphasis of casting vision, giving leadership and a business mindset to delegate instead of serve. 

I've been thinking a lot about the phrase "give thanks.   We have burlap covered letters that say that on our fireplace mantle.  Those two words are a great reminder of how to live in peace, trust, and security…Give Thanks.  In our study of Genesis we have seen Noah and Abraham give thanks to God by building altars, worshipping and giving thanks.  They acknowledged God's faithfulness and His enduring love by the physical act of building an altar that conveys the deep acknowledgement of thanksgiving in their hearts toward God.  Give thanks! 


When we give, we can only give something that we possess.  I know there have been times that I could not give thanks because I didn't possess gratitude.   I could only give what I did possess which many times included; anger, bitterness, jealousy, selfishness, and entitlement....  There are more I could name but you get the picture.  

My background is one of "secret tests.’" What was supposed to teach my brother and I quick reactions, the ability to not hold anything too tightly and be in charge and in control of situations did nothing but turn us into fearful and cynical children and then into fearful and cynical adults. My brother and I were subjected to secret tests daily.  The test could be over nothing of real importance or it could be multi layered and confusing.  I cannot recall one time that either my brother or I passed a secret test.   It was difficult to ever be in the moment of daily life or when we were away from home to have fun because we worried about what “test” we would return to face.  We didn’t think about thankfulness or gratefulness because we were too worried about making the right choice and the dreadful consequences of the wrong choice.  I thought everyone gave me secret tests, so I gave secret tests and just like me, everyone failed. 

For years because of secret tests, I seldom gave heartfelt thanks to anyone or about anything because anything good that happened to me, I felt it was deserved because of all the mean and cruel things we were experiencing.  If I did give thanks, my thank you was more like a child being prodded by a parent to express thanks for something.... 

In this season of acorn browns with the paprika colored decorations, our desire to give thanks has gone the way of this November holiday.  Overtaken with busyness, the loss of giving thanks is ignored between life, events and obligations.   Many times we don’t give thanks because giving thanks is hard, even in good times.  It can be extremely painful to give thanks in the tough times.  I am so thankful for a godly therapist who helped me learn to give thanks not only in words but she showed me how to live in thankfulness.  When we realize that life is a gift and we are overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude, when we fill every moment with praise for God's goodness and thanks for His generosity...we find wholeness and our hearts increase in their capacity to experience and give love.

Along with seeing Cheryl, I read a book that changed my attitude....shall I go cliché and say changed my attitude into gratitude; Stand Against the Wind by Erwin McManus.  I have included some of his thoughts in the above paragraph but this sentence transformed my way of thinking and living


A Life of Gratitude makes us


Overwhelms us with


And moves us to


Generous lives

Gratitude is central to the entire experience and journey of Christian faith. When we are grateful we experience life with a healthy optimism and when we lack gratitude we move toward pessimism. 


An ungrateful heart always sees what's wrong with life


Gratitude softens our hearts.  It makes us kinder and more patient.  We are more forgiving and legalism is vanquished in gratitude.  To give thanks is more than the 30 days of thanksgiving on Facebook.  To give thanks isn't passive, it's an action.  To give thanks is more than a holiday platitude.  Kirk Franklin tweeted this couple of weeks ago


"I had to make a decision to not just BE thankful, but to LIVE thankful.  I can't just wait for sunny days...you never know when they come."

A little bit of Nancy Leigh DeMoss goes a long way with me, but I love this quote from her book Choosing Gratitude:

I found this to be true: Gratitude is a lot more than jonquils and journaling pages.  Gratitude is a lifestyle.  A hard-fought, grace infused biblical lifestyle."

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