Monday, August 04, 2008

"I'm Not There Yet!"

In my opinion, nothing would impact our understanding of scripture like hearing the tone of voice of the one who was doing the talking. The great disadvantage of written word over the spoken is the tone of voice, the facial expressions, and all the other visual signs that give purpose and intent to what was said. Without that, it's easy for what was intended as encouragement to be interpreted as criticism.

Yesterday I sarcastically asked in my sermon if anyone had ever "Over dosed (OD'ed) on thankfulness." Of course, none of us have. None of us are as thankful as we ought to be. Even the ardent Christian tends to be situational about thankfulness as opposed to it being an attitude or a way of life. By situational, I simply mean we are thankful for specific or isolated situations or good things in life. We don't maintain a spirit of thanksgiving towards God on a 24/7 basis. We react or respond to things rather than view life through grateful eyes. That's the challenge for us all.

I have spent most of my life as a chronic worrier - looking for and expecting that infamous "worse case scenario." And that's in the midst of a life that has been incredibly blessed - where I've won far more than lost, succeeded way more than failed, and prospered and been healthy - not most of the time, but nearly all of the time. At 57, it wasn't that many years ago, about a dozen, that it finally dawned on me how important it was to be thankful. It's the key to spiritual growth, to our personal relationship with God, to our prayer life, and to having "the peace that passes understanding." And here's the most critical part - we are in total control of it and we can choose to make it happen anytime we want! This isn't some superficial "Oh, just get over it kid" kind of slogan stuff that you throw at someone who's struggling. Developing a thankful spirit is probably the most life-changing decision we will ever make.

I love these verses in 1 Thessalonians 3:7-8, which were part of what I used in my lesson yesterday. Paul said, "Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord." It's easy to skip over this and miss how their thankfulness for the spiritual maturity of the Thessalonians actually made them feel good in the middle of their own "distress and persecution". Wow! That's the power of a developed spirit of thankfulness.

I'm not there yet, but I want to be, and I'm thankful that my "want to" is finally heading in that direction.

No comments: