We’ve been talking about thanksgiving as a lifestyle, not just a November holiday, over the past couple of weeks. Having an attitude of gratitude is central to Whole Life Worship. Without it, we lose sight of the grace of God. Without it, we cannot worship God from our hearts. Without it, our minds cannot be renewed. Without it, transformation cannot take place.
But the act of giving thanks is hard. Sometimes we don’t feel thankful. Sometimes we can’t think of anything to be thankful for. Sometimes we get so preoccupied with whatever we are facing in the present, that giving thanks for something in the past is the last thing on our minds.
I want to share a comment on a blog I wrote a couple of days ago. It comes from one of our Whole Life Worship readers, Larry Short (don’t worry, I asked permission him to do this):
Doug, I’ve been telling people about the “giving thanks at red lights” idea, and trying to practice it myself, ever since reading your first blog about it. I got my first test this week when I was having lower back problems and it was almost too painful to sit behind the wheel.
The only prayer I could think of was, “Thank you, God, that my back doesn’t normally hurt like this!”
Sounds trite, maybe, but it was sincere. So, I then began to think of all the other things that could be unpleasant, which God has in his grace and mercy withheld from me. I can share my thoughts with others in a reasonably cogent manner. I have a good appetite. My job is secure (so far) despite layoffs at work. Etc., etc.
I was also reading Screwtape Letters today (I think it was letter #21) where Screwtape advises Wormwood to by all means prevent his client (a young Christian) from thinking of his time as anything but his own. When we think we “own” our time we are then indignant at the effrontery of disruptions (like red lights). But the truth is that none of us “owns” our time, and Lewis demonstrate how laughable it is to even seriously entertain this idea.
This put sitting at red lights in a different perspective for me. Lewis makes the point that if God somehow manifested Himself physically to us today and said, “I want you to spend an hour today sitting at red lights” we would certainly do so with great joy and willingness. Yet how is our situation any different than that?
Anyway, just wanted to say “thanks” for helping us to see things in a clearer, more Christ-centric perspective!
What Larry shared helped me to see a profound truth about giving thanks:
It gives God an opening into our lives.
That opening doesn’t have to be big. But it does need to be true. And as we see in Larry’s example, if we give God a little opening, He does the rest. He begins to open our eyes to other things He is doing in our lives. He opens our memory to the blessings He gave us in the past. He opens our hearts to receive more grace in the present. He opens our souls to His everlasting and enduring presence.
Saying even the littlest “thank you” to God is like saying “Welcome, Lord! Come into my life!” It’s not just an acknowledgment; it’s an invitation.
So let’s give God an opening. Give Him an honest, “Thank you!” and see what He does.