According to Dictionary.com, thankful means feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative. This is something we do a lot... someone helps us, we say thanks. Maybe you said thank you to a friend today for caring... or to your neighbor because they lent you something you forgot at the grocery. We thank our servers at restaurants and our kids when they obey (especially if it's first time obedience!). Being thankful is easy, right?
Well, I'm learning that being thankful isn't always easy. God is funny. I'm discovering that He presents me with opportunities to put thankfulness into practice... and I don't always pass the test. Let me explain. This morning, I got up and read my Jesus Calling devotion by Sarah Young. One of the verses from today's devotion was Ephesians 5:19-20: Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are two words in these verses that make thankfulness a little more difficult... always and everything. Ephesians 5:19-20 says we should always give thanks for everything... which translates into giving thanks when things are great... and not so great. I should have known I was reading this for a reason...
I go upstairs to get ready for church and decide to wear a dress since we were visiting a different church this morning to watch my friend's daughter get baptized. I thought... hmmm, I'll wear the dress I wore for my anniversary date. I go to the closet to get it out, and I'm mortified... it's not there, and I know exactly where it is... in the closet of the hotel where my hubby and I celebrated our anniversary. Let me tell you, I am NOT giving thanks for two reasons. Number 1: This is my favorite winter dress. Number 2: We checked out of the hotel two weeks ago... yep, you read it right, it took me two weeks to realize I left it. And to top it all off, I remember thinking as I hung the dress in the closet, I sure hope I don't leave this here. Should've left it out...
I called the hotel and they told me they'd check the lost and found for my clothes. This didn't look too good. However, they promised to call and let me know whether they found our clothes or not. I'm still pretty hot about it and then I remember I'm supposed to always give thanks for everything. And knowing I'm accountable to you, I thought I should put this into practice. So, my half-hearted attempts at thankfulness were "I'm thankful I have other dresses I can wear. And if someone else found it, I'm thankful they have a nice new dress to enjoy." That's a little bit of progress... and if I wasn't doing this experiment, I doubt thankfulness in this situation would even cross my mind.
And then, just to make sure I got the point, God reminded me of thankfulness yet again by having the first worship song be none other than 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. As the tears steamed down my face, I confessed and asked God to forgive me for not being thankful like I should.
But God wasn't done with me yet because later, I drove past a church marquee that said "Give thanks with a grateful heart." Ah, so my heart needs to be invested too. I'm so very thankful that God doesn't expect me to be perfect with this thankfulness stuff! And that He gently reminds me to CHOOSE thanksgiving even when I don't FEEL like being thankful. Can any of you relate?
And now for the rest of the story... after lunch, I received a phone call from the hotel and they found my clothes and are shippin them to me. How cool is that? After the phone call, I stopped and said a prayer of thanksgiving to God, letting Him know that I appreciate that He even cares about my lost clothes. God cares about every detail in our lives... no wonder we should always give thanks for everything. The Thankfulness Experiment can help us practice Ephesians 4:19-20... even when our feelings don't match up with our decision to be thankful. Keep those lists coming so we can help each other with this thankfulness transformation stuff. Here's to God's grace and learning how to be thankful one day at a time.
Today, I am thankful for...
1. Watching my friend's daughter get baptized... so beautiful!
2. God's grace when I'm not being thankful like I should... and His gentle reminders to obey
3. Dress found and on it's way back home
4. My son getting to do his favorite thing in the world - ride his motorcycle
5. My hubby doing dishes after dinner
Here's to 10,000 reasons... Only 7,922 to go...