A pause to say...
I wonder if the problem has anything to do with how rushed life is, or if it's just there are so many things running through our minds. It might be that by the time we finish what's in front of us physically, we have long since moved on mentally. Whatever it is, the lost art of gratitude has an underlying effect no one is talking about.
Gratitude changes things. It's a lot like the Gospel. The Gospel is Good News everywhere it's applied. It is Good News that you have a Savior, that He loved you enough to die for you and that because of His sacrifice you can now experience heaven, both here on earth and later in eternity. There's so much more to the gift of the Gospel, but no matter how you look at it, when you look at it - it changes your reality.
To be entitled is to have earned something, to deserve something, to be owed something. And it's the complete opposite of how Jesus lived. "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!" (Phil 2:6-8.) Jesus didn't get what He deserved. He took on our punishment. He bore our sins. The outcome of the cross (His grace and our redemption) was not something we earned, it is not something we work for and it will never become something we deserve. This freely given gift changes our lives entirely.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
Just like with the cross, the Father is the giver of all good things. If we have it in our lives and it is good, then it is because He has His mighty hands involved in it. If we have it in our lives and it is bad, the promise is, He will work it for our good, (Romans 8.) Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15) and thus He becomes the goodness inside of us as well. When we pause for a second and realize the divine role He plays if changes the credits. Recognizing the credits for what they really are, shifts our thinking and gratitude comes into play. Instead of emptying the soul by dwelling on what we lack, gratitude begins to fill it by celebrating what we possess. There is goodness inside of us because Jesus dwells there (Romans 8). There is goodness outside of us because He is our fortress (Psalm 18) . There is goodness in our families because where two or more are gathered, there He is (Matt 18). There is goodness in our kids because they were created in His image (Gen 1). There is goodness in our circumstances because He is partnered with them to more deeply encounter us. There is goodness as we go out to serve the homeless Thanksgiving dinner, because He is near to the brokenhearted and He holds those who are crushed in Spirit (Psalm 34). When looking through Gospel colored glasses, we see the goodness of God even in the most dire situations.
Our gratitude draws us to Him. It ushers His presence more fully into the room. The aroma of our thanks brings Him running to the table in the same way the smell of grandma's yeast rolls somehow reach the noses of my girls every time! If you lack the presence of Jesus, just start giving thanks and you will find Him.
Have you ever noticed, it's really hard to worry and worship at the same time? Sometimes we rush into worship in order to become thankful. It has become a way for us to remind ourselves of who He is and all He does. What if we rushed into thankfulness to become worshipful? What if our worship erupted because of our overwhelming gratitude? If as we thanked Him and as we honored Him, we simply could no longer hold back the praise.
The more you look at and acknowledge the Gospel in your life (the Good News of Jesus), the more you notice the Gospel in your life. It's like mustard when accidentally put on your McDonald's cheeseburger. It's not very much and you hardly even notice it, unless you think about it. When you think about it, you can't stop noticing it and then suddenly you are unable to get through without gagging.
The more you look at your life through the eyes of what God is doing, the more you will begin to recognize all He has done and the more you will believe Him for what is to come. When we choose gratitude, worship follows suit.
Our worship will trump our worry every single time, if we allow it more space. Stop for a minute (or more than a minute) these next few days. Look around you and be thankful. Take a selah (a pause) and show gratitude for what you have, who you have, where you are. Do this if life is good, but especially do this if life is hard. Your gratitude in spite of your circumstances will raise the temperature in the room and the result will be a changed atmosphere. Gratitude has power because it directs your eyes and eventually feeds your soul. What you look at and how you respond to your circumstances has the potential to bring more of His presence into the room.
Don't wait till Thanksgiving to be thankful, start today. Start right now. Find the good and thank Him out loud.
"Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations."
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