Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Power of Gratitude

Thankful on Thursdays

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 

I'll give you the author of that quote shortly, but I want you to let the words sink in first.  Perhaps we should re-read that together :  cultivate the habit ... of being grateful ... give thanks [when?] ... continually ... include [what?] ... all things ... in your gratitude.

Every day when I raise my hands to God in the morning, here's the posture  in which I want Him to find my heart: ready.     Ready to receive whatever good He places in my hands; ready to give Him my life as an offering; ready to say "thank-You" for whatever He gives through His glorious riches in Christ (Phil 4:19).  Because the Father of Lights only gives good, only filters through what He defines as good, only permits what will be beneficial for my good, though my definition of good may have originally seemed different.  I open my hands again today and allow it to be redefined.  I'm ready to allow Him to redefine me, even.

And gratitude is cultivated in the bringing back down of my hands, holding His gift to my chest in this moment, and saying ... thank You.  For things such as these:

- a snowy morning, and beautifully white flakes.  Reminder of the purity He exchanged for my filth.  That purchase still floors me.

- a working furnace

- J's silliness with baby L : "whoa, her cheeks are squishy!" and "aah, she just slammed my eye out!"

- Your glory-strength in me to endure the unendurable [Col. 1:11-12 (Msg)]

- an extra day with my niece, L ... giving her roly-poly thighs a "slippy" bath, and the glorious feeling of a baby falling asleep in my arms as I rock.  Lord, forgive me for not being grateful for these things when my own were small.  I beg You - teach me to treasure the mundane as Your goodness too.

- a morning to linger in the Word, and for my tattered Bible while my kindle is "missing"

- reminder to speak out Your Love in the morning and Your Faithfulness every night [Psalm 92:1-2]

- a picturesque moon, shining especially bright tonight, and a pretty star so close in the sky

- re-learning grammar so I can strengthen my writing

- the pain of the cycle, and the knowledge of your faithful healing ... again

"And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way." -Colossians 3: 15b-17 (Msg)

Sounds eerily familiar to the quote at the top, doesn't it?  So, how surprised was I to learn that it came from the founder of Transcendentalism himself, Ralph Waldo Emerson?  Really? ... Well, forgive me, Mister Founder, but before you walk away from your faith to worship the gods of self and creation, perhaps you'd like to examine whom you are thanking and gratifying.  

And how much of our society has remained transcendentalized? [Oh my - first I'm talking to dead guys, and now I'm making up words!] ... Part of our thinking has come from the idea that we can make ourselves, control our lives with positive thinking and education, and rise above others by isolating ourselves from them.  Honestly, at 19 years old when I gave my heart to Christ in full, He had to deliver me from every single one of those idols. Oh thank You, Jesus. *shew*

I'm exceedingly thankful He did.  So I hope you enjoyed that truth from one of the greatest writers and poets in American history, however hypocritical it is to his movement and ideals.  We'll extend grace to him too, because, after all - we're all ragamuffins, aren't we?

Sweet Jesus, I'm so thankful again today.  You bless me with good, and I want every bit of it.  Even the gifts that don't appear as such at first.  I embrace them to my heart too.  Today I trust You again and believe that whatever comes is in Your great plan to mold my heart and conform my life to Yours.  Isn't that what I've sung for years?  "Take my heart, and form it.  Take my life and conform it.  Take my will and transform it.  To Yours ..."  May every moment I'm here on earth be one in which I thank You.  Because it's virtually all I have that You want.  Open hands. 

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