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, making it impossible to add a single item to the list. We ran out of lines and white space long 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. Usually, 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. Acknowledging 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.
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
Hello again, friends! How have you been? I’ve been praying for you — that, regardless of where your journey has taken you this week, His presence has been made more real and more abundant than anything else in your life. Let’s keep abiding.
Today I’m stopping by briefly to share this wonderful quote with you! Here in my corner of the globe, we’re entering a time of year when thoughts turn toward the simple act of giving thanks. Of all the things we put on our calendar to mark with intent, this might be one of the best.
Chesterton often wrote about the power of thankfulness and here he gets to the heart of what gratitude really is by way of this lovely little word — wonder. Do you remember the last time you were uplifted by wonderment? The bright though brief days of childhood seem to hold the lion’s share of it for most of us. Truly, I understand — realities of adulting can often numb us to simple mercies that fill our lives. In a post from this past summer, I wrote that I want to daily be more gratefully aware of all the wonderful that surrounds me and flows from His loving kindness. Even as I keep the long view of life in mind, it’s about taking notice of each small and good gift that graces our journey, noting the sacred in the midst of the secular, and allowing common simple goodness to foster as much delight as the exceptional. Pausing to give thanks and pray. To engage all of my senses as I see the beauty of each new day blooming alongside the thorns. Because when happiness is humbly enjoyed with a profound sense of wonderment, it’s enlarged and leads to a profound sense of gratitude.
“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”
If you’ve joined previous conversations here at Readplenish, an underlying theme soon becomes apparent — our need to take the long view of life, especially while walking and working through the hard stuff. On a personal note, this truth has been transformative. Not only is it biblical and therefore good on every level, all along the way it has proven grounding, “… a hope, as an anchor for the soul.” (Heb. 6:19) And while a broad brush stroke is rarely an accurate way to paint anything, this long view can be a very pragmatic lens, effectually filtering out both cynicism and sentimentality.
That being said, the other side of the coin is also worth exploring. For lack of a better way to say this, I’ve adopted a common phrase from the world of horticulture — living seasonally. Fully inhabiting the present. Allowing the hope of spring, the abundance of summer, and the harvest of autumn to sustain us through the long cold nights of winter. The ancient poetry of Ecclesiastes can hardly be improved upon: “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—a time to cry, a time to laugh; a time to grieve, a time to dance” (Ecc. 3:1,4). However, regardless of the season in life, we can know with absolute certainty: “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”(Lamentations 3:22-23) Continue reading
I’m learning a heart full of thanksgiving often shares its space alongside an equal measure of reflection. And here’s something beautiful — giving thanks provides context for the kind of reflecting that honors our Heavenly Father. Without it, our thoughts may wander down paths of ungrateful self indulgence, especially during difficult times. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we’ve been instructed to give thanks in everything (I Thess. 5:18). You see, even a heavy heart can embrace and reflect on the goodness of God in the context of gratitude for who He is and all we know to be true about Him. In ease or in difficulty, His purposes are always for our heart’s protection and soul’s well-being, a beautiful expression of His character and love.