Saturday, July 23, 2011

My gratitude list

I usually don't ascribe to lists. At least, not to legislated ones like daily gratitude lists. I tend to be a pretty grateful person anyway, but there are times when I find it useful to take the time to write down some of the things that I am grateful for. I think the usefulness of gratitude lists comes in their ability to round out reality, to help us see that beyond all the difficult, painful things that may be going on, there is also joy. Just as Christians are called by God to examine our hearts with honesty and faith, to make sure that we do not miss any attitude or belief within us that is unpleasing to God, gratitude lists provide us with an opportunity to examine the happenings around us so that we do not miss the good things that are taking place in the midst of the struggles. It's a reality check. And today, I needed a reality check.

So, first on my gratitude list is my amazing daughter, who is wildly passionate about Jesus, eagerly wanting to do His will and deeply devoted to His work and presence in her life. Connected to this particular object of my gratitude are her experiences at Burke Camp and the teachings, ministry and stellar example of her youth worker, Nathan Johnson, at the camp. He highlighted for her the one thing that she needed to hear - that Jesus is everything. Everything.

Actually, in his duties as preacher, Nathan was able to highlight that message for me as well. Grace and I have often spoken of our devotion to this truth, that Jesus is everything to us. Where once we were content to ask Jesus to help us in the difficult parts of our lives, now we are convinced that we need to just step aside and ask Jesus to personally deal with our difficulties, leaving us with the joyous task of praising Him for His faithfulness as we see Him work in our lives. Gratitude is a weak word to describe my feelings about Grace, and the wonders of watching my daughter not just fall deeper in love with Jesus, but determine to make Him her Lord and Master, the Forgiver of her past, the Constant Companion of her present and the Architect of her future.

I am also grateful for wise, devoted pastors and friends who swoop into my life at hard times with wisdom, encouragement, tea, hugs, truth, Kleenex, prayer and love. These days, I am never quite sure when the next heart-wound is coming, but I do know that within moments of its infliction the phone calls, Facebook/email messages and prayers are let loose in a flurry of encouragement and love. No boo-boo goes unkissed, no tear is left unwiped and no fear is left untended. All of it is God ordained. So often, calls come at just the right time, without my having to ask for help. Gifts arrive unexpectedly. Kindnesses abound without warning. It is all so gloriously God. The thing is that while the initial kindnesses minister to my initial feelings, the knowledge that it all originates in God gives me hope for the future, and in the reality that if a miracle doesn't happen, there are much worse wounds on the way. My friends cannot stop it, nor can they heal a ravaged heart. But God can. Therein lies my hope.

I am grateful, too, for many small things that make my days pleasant. A silly kitten. A kind cardiologist. My fan. My herb garden that is doing incredibly well. My room. My books. A safe and comfortable place to call home. Tea. The Huntingdon library. A car to use until my car gets fixed. Did I mention my fan?

So many things! So many people! So much gratitude!

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