Chasing Gratitude

gratitude handwriting

I’m a problem-solver. It’s what I do.

As a Legal professional for over 25 years, I spend my workdays solving complex, high visibility challenges in our organization and with our Clients.  I am actually paid to plan for overcoming the worst case scenario!

In my real passion – ministry — I am called and gifted to see things about others, often before they see them about themselves, so that God can use me to lead them to healing, peace, hope, and restoration.  Through the Spirit, I find the barrier and help them overcome it.

I’m a solution-finder to some of life’s toughest challenges.

But wait…I have found a problem with that.  (Go figure.)

See, that doesn’t make me wise. Not at all.  It means that if I do not purposefully, intentionally live with a grateful heart, that my worldview is shaped by problems, and not by gratitude…and that is exhausting.  My eyes become fixed on the darkness before they see the light.  I had recently become tired, numb, passionless, and empty even though I was doing “Godly” things and finally had to cry out to the Lord to show me what was broken.  This burden of problems, this weight of conflict and pain, took residence on my shoulders and had flattened me physically, emotionally, and spiritually.   A weight He never, ever intends me to bear.  He so lovingly showed me that I was not living in gratitude, and gratitude always precedes joy.  Gratitude always precedes a miracle.

So as I write this, I am just a new babe in this season of chasing gratitude, and I still have much to learn.  Now obviously I am so deeply thankful to the Lord at times that it brings me to my knees.  But I don’t want the occasional – I want the perpetual.  I want my entire life to be a response of thankfulness for everything and everyone that God brings to me.

Know what I’m finding out?  That it’s way harder than I thought it would be.  That if I’m really being honest here, I’m not such a grateful person.  About what I perceive to be the “big” stuff, yes.  But I have missed so many miracles and beautiful things for so long, because my eyes just weren’t open to them.  I am learning (slowly) to fix my eyes on the light.  To help retrain my thoughts and shift my paradigm, over the past month or so I have been posting “My Favorite Part of Today” short posts on my Facebook page.  That self-imposed accountability helps me to remember to be aware and present in every single moment of each day and to look for the good stuff.  The first few days were very hard but after a few weeks it has become a bit more natural, and I find myself looking for the smallest of blessings throughout each day.

And this stubborn heart is gradually learning that this depth of gratitude that I seek can only exist when I truly allow myself to receive God’s love for me.

One of the most beautiful depictions of gratitude is found in Matthew 8.  A leper approaches Jesus, stopping at the required distance. Then, he kneels before Jesus and begs for help.  We can imagine that the very sight of him was repulsive, and the smell of him was revolting. People probably gasped, and backed away in fear. Some bystanders likely commanded him to “get out” and clear the roadway, to not put anyone at risk.

Matthew writes that Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.  Then Jesus spoke the words: “Be clean . . . go show yourself to the priest.”

Jesus healed ten lepers that day.  But only one came back to thank Him.  Only one caught himself in the midst of the celebration, and returned to Jesus. He reversed his steps, put his family on hold, put the priest on hold, and came back to cause of his celebration for one reason.  To give thanks.

I want to be the one who comes back.  The one who puts everything else on hold until I’ve had my moment with God to give thanks.

If you read the story slowly, you’ll also see that there are two miracles here.  The leprosy was gone. That’s the obvious one to see.  The other miracle is the touch of a loving, human hand.

Just today, you have likely touched more people in the past hour than this man had touched in years. Maybe a child has sat in your lap. Maybe you hugged one or a few people already, just today.

Not this man. He longed for a loving touch more than he longed for food. More than he needed water, he needed love. And before he was healed, while there was still tremendous risk, Jesus was willing to give him that touch.

Maybe today you feel like this man.  Maybe you feel that your presence before God is repulsive to Him because of what you have done.  Or maybe you feel shunned by others who have made you believe that you are not eligible for God’s favor.

It’s not true.

No disease or abuse or affliction has scarred you so badly that Jesus won’t touch you. Jesus is always willing to lovingly touch you, hold you, and restore you.

No sin or failure has made you unlovable or ineligible for grace. Jesus is willing to stand beside you, bless you, forgive you, and protect you, no matter what.

No fear has disqualified you from His love or His presence. He stands waiting for you to allow Him to calm your anxiety in the way that only He can.

You see, this miracle of gratitude is the love of Jesus, for you. No exceptions. No conditions. No doubts.

Oh, how He loves us.  And for that, God, we are so very thankful.

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