A dear friend recently sent me this fabulous photograph. I loved her unexpected gift, but it made me realize it's been nearly three months since I've written a new blog post. I apologize for the delay ... time to move forward!
Maybe the reason I haven't written is that I've been absorbed in author Ann Voskamp's writing--her book, "One Thousand Gifts." Another dear friend gave it to me, and it has profoundly impacted my life. It is both poetic and practical, a rare combination. I am prompted to ponder and practice a fresh way of living ... recognizing the events of each day as grace, and choosing gratitude in each one. Realizing that a wholly good and loving God is the One who ultimately orders all aspects, I see that my definitions of "good" and "bad" are often too narrow. In my first post to this blog, I talked about how the storm is the prequel to the rainbow ... without the rain and dark clouds, we would miss the glory. If there was only sunshine, we would never see the magnificent wonder in the sky!
Ann Voskamp says that gratitude always comes before joy. Giving thanks precedes the miracle. The Bible portrays Jesus, sharing the Last Supper with His disciples even as His death loomed near, "When He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them ... " (Luke 21:19) This is a pattern found throughout Scripture, Old and New Testament alike. When Job heard of the destruction of his property and family, he blessed the name of the Lord. When Mary heard of her untimely pregnancy, she proclaimed the greatness of the Lord. When Paul and Silas were in prison, they sang praises to God. And these are just a few of many, many examples.
I Thess. 5:16-18 describes an intriguing progression, "Rejoice ever more; Pray without ceasing; In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Prayers of petition sandwiched between expressions of gratitude. I often pray for God's will in my life. Maybe that has less to do with changes in circumstances, and more with how I respond to what's going on around me right now, recognizing the gifts He offers in struggle as well as joy. His presence and peace, His power and purpose. In those realities I can always give thanks, and always find reason to rejoice.
God's thoughts are not my thoughts, and His ways are not my ways. They are immeasurably higher and better, far beyond what I can imagine or think. That's where I want to live. How about you? :)