Tell me, does the following sound at all familiar? (Please say “yes” ’cause I’d hate to be the only one who feels this way!)
/ WHERE I ASPIRE TO BE: / “Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise!”
/ WHERE I OFTEN FIND MYSELF: / Moments and days that all but blur into one long “To Do List” of sorts.
Let’s face it — life is sometimes packed to the brim with demands. It would be impossible to add a single item to the list. We ran out of lines and white space a long time ago and even our margins are so full of scribbles we can’t decipher the important stuff anymore! It can seem like a mountain waiting to be scaled, while for some there may only be one, yet equally daunting box to check today — simply to get out of bed. Sometimes it’s a literal list of tasks we must tackle, but often it comes instead in the form of a toll life would exact and demand of our hearts as we walk through the hard stuff. It’s good to acknowledge that we all must deal on some level with this part of our humanity without allowing ourselves to settle into the well-worn rut of “woe is me”. Let’s agree not to end the conversation there. So, how do we adopt a fresh perspective?
Set the list aside for a moment. There’s something else, something restorative to attend to first.
If you already feel spent and exhausted before beginning the climb, start by giving thanks.
If counting our blessings and naming them one by one seems like an impossible choice (you may be saying “what blessings??”), let’s give thanks for who He is, for all we know to be true about Him, and for the promises He has made to us.
“Hold on a minute”, you say — with all those “To Do’s” in mind, perhaps you’re thinking that “…in everything, give thanks…” (I Thessalonians 5:18) just became one more task to complete! I’ve been there too. But this isn’t just an arbitrary command, rather an invitation to rest for a moment in a place not shaped by all the stuff filling our lists and heavy hearts. It’s easy to forget He always has our good in mind.
You see, being the Good Shepherd, He knows thanksgiving shifts the focus from our ever changing needs to His never changing faithfulness. In the act of thanksgiving, He leads us to green pastures and beside still waters.
The view is so much better from here! Here there’s room to breath and tired souls are restored. Here we’re reminded He will provide and we “shall not want”. It’s here He retraces for us once again the countless ways His goodness and mercy have always followed us. And here, He gently reassures us that no matter how dark and deep the testing, we don’t need to fear. (Psalm 23)
Yes, it’s still the same mountain in front of us – appointments to keep, bills to pay, problems to solve, needs to be met, expectations to fulfill, uncertainty to wait through, grief to walk through – – but stepping out with thanksgiving on my lips and the Shepherd’s hand in mine gives me courage to get started. Step by step, moment by moment, He asks me to “…be of good cheer for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). This is reason enough to give thanks.
So, if it feels like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, let the simple act of thanksgiving lighten the load. Thanksgiving doesn’t sugar-coat life, rather it prepares our hearts to receive His grace; grace we need for the climb. How sweet to know there is a limitless supply!
Wishing you renewed courage today and a cup that “runneth over” with thanksgiving.