If you haven't already, please head over to Abigail's blog to read the article for this week's Articles Club. This week, the article examines what it looks like to thoroughly live out thankfulness in this Thanksgiving season, or in Abby's words, "the importance of savoring the Thanksgiving season upon us." It's a wonderful article and discussion and a necessary heart reminder for me! You can find the full article and join the conversation over on Abby's blog. To learn more about Articles Club and the folks behind it, click here and here.
This is my view right now:
I'm realizing that gratitude (the theme of the season, right?) is more than a merely internal act.
Part of the discipline of gratefulness is to share with those around me the blessings in my life and where they came from. The source (God) deserves all the credit. So often I say, "I'm thankful for my family, my warm home, this meal, my_____" etc., but I need to not just acknowledge the gifts, but give due credit to the Giver.
This John Piper quote struck me:
The key to unlocking a heart of gratitude and overcoming bitterness and ugliness and disrespect and violence is a strong belief in God, the Creator and Sustainer, and Provider, and Hope-giver. If we do not believe we are deeply indebted to God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude has gone dry.
Gratitude is not only looking backwards, but looking around in the present and cultivating gratitude for the future. The polar opposite to a heart of gratitude is bitterness, ugliness, disrespect, and violence. My heart will be filled with one or the other, so if I'm not turning my heart to gratitude actively and regularly, it's going to be filled up with all the ugly things.
Recently, I was reading in Mark 5. After Jesus commanded the demons to come out of a possessed man, he wanted to go with Jesus, but Jesus replied (verse 19-20): "And he did not permit him but said to him, 'Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.' And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled."
Jesus commands us:
Be a witness to what God is doing your life.
Telling people what God has done in your life and how He's had mercy on you leads to people marveling at God's glory and goodness.
So, in the effort of practicing this,
Looking back, I'm thankful for:
- How God so perfectly orchestrated my move from Minnesota to Indiana to Texas. He didn't make any mistakes.
- His faithfulness in placing truly loving, heartfelt, God-honoring people in every stage of my life. Three of these wonderful women wrote me the most encouraging snail mail recently (Maeve, Lauren, and Lauren!)
- Giving faith to former me to make hard decisions (like moving to Texas)
Looking around, I'm thankful for:
- A cozy home to share with a loving husband
- New friends and blue skies in this new season
- Faithful long-time friends all over the country (and right here in Austin) who continue to encourage us
- A nursing job that I love
- New community at our church
Looking forward, I'm thankful for:
- Anticipation of seeing family at both Thanksgiving and Christmas and having more visitors here in 2015
- The happy mystery of the future
- God's continued faithfulness and steadfastness—a part of His character that is changeless.
- spending eternity with Jesus
- Knowing that even if all the earthly blessings we currently enjoy were taken from us, He is still good.
This was a bit of an exercise in discipline for me. It took me some effort to look beyond the present and to anticipate His goodness. But like any discipline, I'm going to need to practice this until it becomes a habit. Habitual gratitude—I like the sound of that. I don't know what the future holds, but I know that God is good, and I can occupy myself with gratitude and praise for that for the rest of my life.