This time of year we are more focused on being thankful and giving gifts to others. Our abundance and all we have to be thankful for tends to rise to the surface of our awareness. We think more about our own blessings, we talk about them, and we read about others thankfulness on social media. Increased gratitude is part of why it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. While it is wonderful to be more purposeful about thanking God for His good gifts, I can’t help but consider the notion that this is how our lives should be lived out all year long. Rather than enjoying a season of gratitude, how would life be different if we purposed in our hearts to live a life of gratitude as described in Ephesians 5:20, “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Lord deepened this idea in my heart recently through an experience in my own life with my little girl. My daughter is six. Much to her chagrin, she is little. Her entire existence revolves around getting big. She was enjoying an unhurried Saturday morning recently. She lingered in her footie jams. She had knotted bed hair flying all directions. She hummed a quiet, contented little tune to herself while reclining on the couch. Her well-worn "lovies" and snack were in hand and a lighthearted cartoon played in the background. It was her reality and everything about it was good. Meanwhile, for me it had been a particularly stressful, very "adult" week, so I remember thinking on her behalf how thankful I was that she was able to enjoy such a lighthearted time of life. I even recall the momentary thought, "I envy her childhood." Suddenly, as though tapped directly into my train of thought, my internal dialogue was abruptly interrupted as she proclaimed, "I don't want to be little. I can't wait to be big." I felt sad as I thought to myself, "She has no way of knowing what goodness she's wishing away."
I thought about that scenario all the following week. Then, it dawned on me. I'd been doing exactly what I saw my little girl do! I wonder if God's heart is saddened like mine was for her as He watches me wish away my current season. I was so ready to be past it. I was so ready to move onto the next place of promise, that I was missing and wishing away my present goodness.
I wonder how many of us miss some of the most delightful, perfect yet fleeting moments and seasons of life because we're too busy looking forward. How many of us have believed that after we lose a certain about of weight we’ll feel more thankful for our bodies? How often do we hope the next "big thing" will be what brings us contentment and joy? How much time do we spend thinking about what we'd like to change, feeling certain that's when we'll settle into peace and happiness? Sadly, in doing so we miss the now, we miss goodness. What if all our present blessings, comforts, and gifts fade to gray because our gaze is focused just beyond them?
What would happen if we just decided to be thankful enough for TODAY? Not tomorrow, not next week or next year, but for today's blessings. How much more would we enjoy our lives and impact those around us by living a life of thankfulness? What would be different if we noticed more and allowed joy to rise up within us over who we are, how we are, where we are THIS day?
If we truly believe God’s promise that the path of a right standing child of God is perfectly ordered, can we take that leap of faith to consider that this moment, this season, is necessary for the next? Our steps are not simply purposed to reach the final destination. No! The Great Giver has something for us, something beautiful and amazing in mind for each step and each season. Will we look for it and rejoice in it today instead of looking for the next? How much might we regret missing the gifts God was handing us today because in our hearts and minds we couldn't wait to "get bigger."
I love Rowan Williams reflection on Jesus’ final night before the cross. He says, “When Jesus gives thanks at that moment before the breaking and spilling, before the wounds and the blood, it is as if He is connecting the darkest places of human experience with God the Giver; as if He is saying that even in these dark places God continues to give, and therefore we must continue to give thanks.”
What will you notice and give thanks for today, just as they are - today?
Father God, you are a loving and lavish Giver of good gifts. You delight in blessings your children and we give you praise for that! It’s so easy to miss your goodness. It’s easy to overlook all the countless ways you show yourself to be faithful in our lives at each and every step and season. Lord, give us the ability to reign in our minds and thoughts so we are able to pause and notice our current blessings. Help us to find contentment in each day. Lord, please help us as we purpose in our hearts to be mindful and thankful for exactly where and how we are this very day. If we’ll stop to look for you we’ll be overwhelmed by your presence. Increase our faith to trust that each and every step of our journey is perfectly planned and that you never leave or forsake us. Help us Lord to lower our gaze from looking beyond today’s blessings so we don’t risk missing them. We desire to live a life of thankfulness. Not just during the holiday season, but all year long as a testimony to your goodness and faithfulness Lord. We thank you for this day. Help us to live it out in a way that shines your light before men. May you be glorified through us Lord. In Jesus name, amen.