ADVENT, DAY NINE
I truly have so much to be thankful for. Yet, all to often, I find myself focusing on the inconveniences and difficulties of life.
I love the morning hours after all have left the house. In the peace and quiet I can sit and read my Bible, talk to Jesus, worship him, and write. However, yesterday morning was anything but that. Both boys were home with their TV blaring comic strip voices which, in my mind, droned on incessantly. In addition, I was preparing a special lunch for a friend to celebrate her birthday later that day. The extra stress of trying to make things perfect for her, along with the comic voices and their activity below interrupting my solitude, I found myself wanting to throw a real live adult tantrum!
Fortunately, Jesus knew not only my frustration, but my heart. He also knew the needed remedy. As I read Psalm 33:5 “The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”, I realized my heart was anything but full of “unfailing love” at that moment. It was full of angst and frustration over my inconvenience of not having a “peaceful, normal” morning.
Three things began to change my outlook:
- I chose to journal the issues irritating me – spreading them out before the Lord.
- I confessed within the pages of my journal the fact I wasn’t looking like Jesus at all at that moment.
- Finally, I began to record all of the blessings that He had given me within the past 24 hours, hoping, as I wrote, to find some peace and quiet within.
As God’s word began to re-orient my thinking, I realized God had given me some pretty special gifts within the past few minutes.
- The sun was shining through the back door next to me, warming me by it’s rays.
- “You are all we need , your love has set us free” sang melodiously through the radio on top of the fridge.
- The lovely ginger-lemon tea I was sipping sweetly flavored my tongue while the scents of baking cornbread and chili bubbling on the stove wafted through the air.
- I was wearing a beautiful brand new, tags still on it when I bought it, sweater from the thrift store.
- Friends were coming for lunch – an activity I had long been wanting to restore to my home – showing hospitality.
- Another friend had just called to remind me we were riding together that evening to the long awaited LH Church Women’s Christmas Dinner.
My list went on for quite a while. So by the time I was finished, all the frustration had ebbed away, and even though my surroundings hadn’t changed, my heart had been. Transformed by gratitude.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
God calls us to “fix our thoughts” not because he wants to control us, but to give us freedom – freedom to live and enjoy all he has given us, through gratitude.
Dear Jesus, I am often anything but grateful. It is so easy for me to focus on the difficulties and inconveniences of life while overlooking the many daily, simple blessings you have given me. Please change my heart so I more readily and easily see the gifts in the day. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
With love and prayers,
Note: Ann Voscamp, is a New York Times Bestselling author of “One Thousand Gifts”. Her testimony of severe depression because of childhood trauma, and her transformation through growing to see God more clearly, and learning to practice gratitude, is amazing. I have found the things I learned from her pen, blessed by Jesus, have truly had a major impact on how I view life.