But First, Thanks.
Updated: Feb 15, 2021
"All that I am, praise the Lord;
everything in me, praise his holy name.
My whole being, praise the Lord
and do not forget all his kindnesses." (Psalm 103:1-2 NCV)
What often stands out to me when I read about Jesus and the way He lived His earthly life is how often He offered up thanks, first. Jesus' daily walk rhythm was to pause in the sacred space before, lift up gratitude to God the Father, and then continue with the rest of the day's buzz of activity. He gave thanks for the food, for the miracles, for the Father hearing Him and receiving Him. Thanksgiving was just a part of His essence, like serving, like goodness, like moving about and breathing, it permeated His days. This places gratitude on a very high plane for those of us longing to pattern our lives after His. By reading His example, I am struck by how opposite I can live out my days and how quickly I pass by this act of worship without even a glance back in the rearview mirror to see what I missed and neglected to do.
My life is full. Too full most days, actually. I pack it in and pack it tight, like a suitcase way too small for the trip I planned. I stuff my week full of meetings, driving, shopping and emails, always the frenzy over the filling. The pace over peace. I have to jam the day shut before I put more unnecessary stuff in causing the zipper to bust and my attitude along with it. Stopping to give thanks is not my go-to place, mainly because it is not a top priority, sadly. In the crazy schedule I attempt to keep, I tick off the tasks, jumping from one to the next with no time to waste. I've got things to do, people to see and to top it off, laundry and dirty dishes to do.
Taking a rare moment to reflect, the crucial question surfaces: What is life absent of thanksgiving? How good or valuable is something if we are not grateful for it? I need to stay aware of this important query, lest I forget its worth. When I flop into bed after a long day that has once again slipped by and lived without an imprint of thanks, I know something critical to holding and keeping joy is missing. I know that doing the dishes and laundry are just part of my reality, not being able to afford a full-time maid (darn it), and I cannot really honestly say I am grateful to get to do them. Is anyone?
But, when I look deeper into these tedious-task moments, seeing them with a new, fresh view, I can see that even though I do not need to do the happy dance when filling the dishwasher or washing machine, I should still be thankful for what these things represent. The sink that is overfull of dishes and the looming piles of laundry on the sofa mean that I have a family I get to care for. I have people to cherish in my life that dirty those plates and cups during mealtimes spent shared around the table. The many (many) stained brown socks I wash turn that shade by running around the yard in them and walking on the old, creaky wood floors in our house in need of a cleaning too. This opens my heart wide open to why a life painted in strokes of gratitude is so important and beautiful. We get to create our own priceless artwork-days when we stop and notice the miraculous within the messy and menial things and give thanks because we to get to be a part of it all.
Jesus gave thanks often and regularly because He knew a secret and wanted to share it; that gratitude is key to true joy in all things. Being thankful for the ordinary softens life's often hard surfaces, hatching the lovely and precious into the typical. It brings quiet, sacred pause into the mad pace. It brings our thoughts and praise back to center and back to the One deserving thanks for all. In fact, it is the way He asks us to remember Him; sacred indeed (Matthew 26:26). This coming Thanksgiving day, and the regular, humdrum days that follow, let's all take time to pause and offer thanks and usher in the joy even in the mundane moments. Life can indeed be sweet if we choose to stop long enough to taste it and push the thanks to the forefront, to first place, where it belongs.
Question: What mundane task will you thank God for today - seeing the joy inside and not just the job at hand?