Recently I watched a video of a man held captive for years, set free and returned home. When he got off the plane he fell to his knees, kissed the ground and raised his hands in worship…thanking God for his freedom, his family, his home. No doubt, it was a perfect picture of a heart bursting with gratitude. He knew he’d been given something he didn’t deserve and all the simple pleasures of life were now magnified. What once was lost, was now found.
This got me thinking! I wondered if I was as thankful for the simple things as this man. I wondered if I had become entitled, spoiled & privileged. Maybe grace had become expected, as if I were owed this life of mine. Maybe I was charging into every day with the demand: “give me a straight and easy path”, “give me luxuries not known by most” and “give me what you owe me”. Not that I would ever say that or outright embrace this notion, but instead maybe my heart had drifted? Maybe…
As I watched this man again…it reminded me of my past. It reminded me of times when I felt the same way. It reminded me of my youth, when every day was an adventure. It reminded me of laughter in rain, my gorgeous bride walking the isle towards her awaiting bridegroom. It reminded me of my newborn sons’ cry and the fresh smile of a little girl always meant for me! It stirred something in me. It stirred that sense so vital to knowing the depth of His grace. It brought an ember of thankfulness!
“You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:11-12
The doorway to knowing God is absolute. There is no substitute and no way around it. Without a heart of gratitude, we can never know much less experience God. A thankful heart is a heart full. A person of gratitude is a person who has the very touch of God on them.
Here are the four marks or attributes of those who’ve discovered the journey of thanksgiving:
A grateful heart is a generous heart
When you understand the nature of grace given to you, you tend to measure out the same grace on others. You tend to be generous with your money, your time, your praises, your prayers. You desire to give and not always take!
A grateful heart is a forgiving heart
Wounds not cared for become bitterness which then breeds cynicism and sarcasm. Cynicism and sarcasm are markers of a heart grown cold or a grudge held far too long. A heart thankful will be a heart that embraces it’s own failures and tends to forgive the same in others. Thankfulness is the antidote to bitterness and fosters deep compassion and charity.
A grateful heart is a humble heart
It has been said: “in the south our greatest sense of pride is found in our deep humility”. We often misread true humility. We often misread true pride. Gratitude will unmask our deepest intentions and help us see with clarity. A heart that seeks God cannot entertain both pride and thanksgiving.
A grateful heart is a worshiping heart
A few years ago I was given a small new testament Bible by Lisa’s grandfather. As a marine, he carried it in his pocket during the battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific during World War 2. I was overcome with emotion. I knew the depths of this gift and the meaning behind it. The scriptures abound with the pathway to entering God’s presence: through the gates of thanksgiving. Gratitude reminds of what we’ve been given and the depth of meaning behind it. Only then can we truly worship!
That video of a man set free is our story! The kiss of sun on our face, the joy & laughter of a house full or the book of memories of days gone by are a sign of God’s incredible gifts. When we really stop and think about it, ponder His hand in our lives; it doesn’t take long to see we are nothing but ragamuffins and orphans afforded something that was never ours. How could we possibly complain about another thing…ever!
Be grateful! Seize this day before it’s gone. Make the call, hug the neck, forgive and release the hurt. Choose to be like the man in the video; set free and overcome with thanksgiving. Then head into Thanksgiving Day and beyond with a heart warmed by the very touch of God.