"Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."--Galatians 6:8, 9 Last night, my husband and I went out for dinner for our date night. We don't do this very often, maybe once a month. To be honest, it was the first time in a while since I had actually stopped and thought through all that had been going on. As I was sharing with my husband my tiredness---not just in body but in spirit---I found myself starting to feel a bit angry. It wasn't him or our circumstances, though it was tempting to blame all the business on the house on him, as if it was "his" idea. By God's grace, I curbed the urge to go there.
At that moment, I felt anything but thankful. In fact, I was beginning to feel like complaining! I felt rather hypocritical about writing today because I felt like this whole journey toward growing in thanksgiving was all an act, like I was going through the motions.
But as I sat down with the Lord this morning during my quiet time, He reminded me that thanksgiving is not a matter of heart but a matter of will at times. Sometimes I am not going to "feel" like giving thanks. It will be sheer discipline. When is sowing seed ever really a fun task? Maybe it is when you are a little kid and are romping through the dirt in your bare feet behind your parents. But for the mom or dad who is sowing the seed, it is probably not their idea of a fun way to spend the day. Yet it must be done if they desire to reap the fruits of the harvest.
Likewise, if I desire to grow a thankful heart, one that can spontaneously delight and see the many blessings that God sends my way, I will need to discipline myself to sow seeds of thankfulness. In his article "Cure for the Bad-News Blues" Paul Thigpen writes, "Realizing that thanksgiving is not a polite courtesy but an urgent duty helps us move beyond a slavish dependence on the way we feel moment by moment."
Urgent duty? Do I look at thanksgiving that way? Thanksgiving is not an optional idea. Over and over, I read in God's Word that we are to give thanks to the Lord. 1 Thess 5:18, Ps. 136:1 come to mind for starters. Giving thanks is a command, not something I squeeze in when I feel like it.
Yes, practicing gratitude is a discipline at times. Like any other spiritual discipline, I can approach it like eating dry wheat toast---healthy but not very appetizing. Or I can remember that as I set aside daily time to reflect on God's goodness and to thank Him for those blessings, God then has the opportunity to work in me as well. Adele Calhoun writes, "It is a discipline to choose to stitch our days with the thread of gratitude. But the decision to do so is guaranteed to stitch us closer to God." Oh Lord, stitch me closer to You!
Will you join me this month in setting aside daily time to thank the Lord? It is our urgent duty. Whether it be around the dinner table with your kids, writing it down, or remembering to pray while you settle your head down on your pillow for the night, let's start making every effort to thank the Lord. It is a good thing. Let us not weary in doing it. The harvest is gonna be awesome.
“Sow a thought, and you reap an act; sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit, and you reap a character; sow a character, and you reap a destiny."
- Charles Reade