Do everything without grumbling and arguing, (Philippians 2:14 NIV)
Last month at church we were handed a paper leaf. On it, we were to write a list of things for which we are grateful. The elderly lady who handed it to me said that there was a problem. She had so many things to list, they never would fit into such a small space. She needed dozens of leaves. Author Max Lucado would love her outlook. He wrote this: “We live in an art gallery of divine creativity and yet are content to gaze only at the carpet.” Have you noticed that being thankful appears to be in short supply, while griping is plentiful? Grudgery and gratefulness daily compete for the attention of our thoughts, even though developing an attitude of gratitude has the potential to completely change the way our day will go. Picture two glasses, side-by-side. The larger glass is half-full, the smaller glass is full, and an arrow points from the larger to the smaller glass. The adage underneath speaks liters: “If you see your glass as half empty…pour it into a smaller glass and stop whining.” Ann Voskamp would agree. She wrote the book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, challenging her readers to list 1000 things for which they should be grateful. (I highly recommend her book.) Ann knows that sometimes that is not easy. As a child, she and her mother watched her young sister be crushed under a truck. Her mother ended up in a psychiatric hospital, and her father turned from God. As an adult, Ann stood beside her brother-in-law as he buried his first two sons. In spite of her setbacks, she chose to believe that God is joy, and on that she would rely. So, here’s the New Years’ challenge. At some time during each day, make a list of 10 typically-taken-for-granted things for which you should be grateful. Avoid the obvious like “family,” “health,” “a job,” etc. To make it a little more challenging, make it things from the past hour. Here’s my list, created this morning when I woke up: 1. A working thermostat 2. A morning devotional from my daughter-in-law 3. An indoor bathroom 4. A cup of coffee and a chocolate chip cookie (no comments necessary) 5. A quiet lake 6. A husband who wakes up and makes me laugh 7. A text from a friend celebrating her weight loss 8. A car that starts 9. Janice Allen organizing Pickleball 10. Buck Run
Let’s take it one step further. The next time you find yourself complaining, look for a blessing instead. For example, while shoveling snow, thank God that you have arms and legs, since many don’t. Thank Him that you have eyes to see the path of your shovel, and thank Him that you have a home with a sidewalk. Thank Him for a warm coat and snow boots and hot cocoa waiting for you inside when your job is finished. And thank Him for you being alive to thank Him. In the meantime, I am giving Him thanks for you readers who (most of the time) encourage me to keep writing. To God be all the glory for giving me this opportunity. May 2020 be filled with an art gallery of blessings for us all!