I am so excited about this post today! Excited and nervous. I hope it comes out right, I hope you get what I'm trying to say, or even better, I hope you get something from God, I mainly hope you just read the whole post;).
So, if you have read any of my previous posts from the past year, you know I am a shameless promoter of things. I mean, I had a whole post dedicated to David Crowder... And why shouldn't I? He's a pretty cool guy. A couple of months ago I basically begged you to by a Derek Webb CD, which, I still think you should...(jk, kind of...) Buy now, you should also know I am a huge music freak. I LOVE music. But today, I am not pushing music, nope, I'm telling you to go get a book... yep, put your reading glasses on.
Now, if you know me, I am not about to go give you a book report about this book. Cause really, honestly, I haven't read the whole thing yet. But I'm looking forward to it. Its a book called 1000 Gifts. I did not post a link, but if you google it, it is the first thing that pops up.
All I'm saying is that my beautiful sister gave me this book back in April. I had just come off of a small group study of Grace, and I was in this place where I wanted to know more about God's Grace, how much I need it in my life. How I Love God's Grace. I will continue to learn about it, I promise. So my sister gives me this book on Thankfulness, and here is my exact super-churchy, shamefully spiritually snobby thought about this wonderful gift she gave me, "Thankfulness? Didn't we learn this in kindergarten? I am so thankful for everything, this is going to be a breeze, thank you God, right, ok, well..." And I didn't have any of my other books on Grace yet, and I needed to read, so I shrugged my shoulders and read the book. (And if you are wondering, I did not say any of those things out-loud, THANK YOU Lord...) And boy, have I gotten my socks blown off.
I learned I am not a thankful person. I can literally spend hours in prayer, praying crying out, begging God for all kinds of things in my life. And no time thanking Him for a thing. Not one thing. And then I wonder why I still feel there are no miracles, no answered prayer. Why do I still feel heavy? But the author of this book makes a very good point. "Eucharisteo precedes the miracle." The author explains that Eucharisteo is a Greek word meaning "He gave thanks" by using two other Greek words Grace and Joy. Wow, Thanks, Grace, and Joy, what a combination to have! She then went to give the example how when Christ received the loaves and fish to feed the 5,000, He thanked God first. He was grateful for the miracle that was about to happen, because He trusted God. My prayers were never full of so much faith. Because when I ask, and ask, and ask, but have no faith in the one that I am asking from, what good are my prayers? I know that the Bible says for us to ask and seek and knock. But the Bible also says in James 1: But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. This verse has stung me for most of my life. But something has happened. And that something is thankfulness. Being sincerely thankful for everything I am praying for. Being thankful for the friends that I am praying for, thankful that God loves us and, He has brought us here so far, and He will continue to bring us along. That even when our lives don't turn out the way be thought, being thankful that God has done greater things in our lives. Being grateful for the very moments, seconds you are living. It slows time down. Try it. When you don't want a certain moment to end, start thanking God for all He is doing. I just tried that on a little trip with Tim. Instead of trying to make stuff happen and get him to open up to me on the beach we were at. I just started thanking God for everything thing in that moment. From the waves, the sunlight, the sand, to the beautiful husband that thought enough of our marriage to bring us on this trip to be with just us. Do you know what happened? A miracle. Tim took my hand and walked with me on the beach and told me all about what he was learning in the book He was reading. Oh, I wish you could hear my heart sing, it sounds a lot better than I do... Talk about Thanks, Grace, and Joy all in one moment.
My heart if full. A lot more than it was. Because I am learning to be so much more thankful than, "I am thankful for everything." And I am also trying a new thing. It's a bit extreme, I know, but bear with me. When I receive not so good news recently, I literally sat there and thanked God, and I refused to leave until my heart was truly grateful for the news I received. I did not want to leave this spot worrying, fearing, playing fake with the Lord. I was determined to sit there until I received the blessing of the news. And it happened. I looked up and saw the small birds, and God whispered, "See how they are so fat because how I have provided for them? I love you a lot more than them, trust me..." And I was able to enjoy the rest of the day, Thankful, for the blessing, the promise. It is a practice that I have been missing for most of my life. But I am so full. And so Grateful! What are our other options when hearing bad news? Worrying? Trying to make things out of our control under our control? Doesn't work, I tried, a lot to make my life bend to my will. It never happened. But, when you wake up one day and realize you are 25, going on four years of marriage to a great man, and expecting a beautiful bundle of joy too... I realized I am SO thankful that my life bent to the Most Holy than my ideas.
Please know I am new at this. There are people who have been handed news that is more mind-blowing than I have experienced. But I will tell you, I don't like being worried, I can't stand to feel out of control, and when I set my focus through the practice of Thankfulness, all of those worries wash away. My devotional today said this, "Let trust and thankfulness stand guard, turning back fear before it can gain a foothold." I would have never known what that would have meant if God had not used this book to teach me more about Himself. And I will also admit that Trust has not been my strong point in life, but through Thankfulness, I am learning to trust God. Somehow, those two are linked very closely. I am so tired of being fearful, you have no idea how fear has integrated itself into my life. A cage I was just used to living in. How Thankfulness has helped me, not just unlocked that cage, but broken it. I mean, I'm still traveling this road, but I'm so glad, grateful really:) to be on the road in the first place.
Hope you have enjoyed my Ebenezer. I certainly am!