Open your eyes!
You can be honest. Nobody's reading over your shoulder. It's just you and me and . . . OK . . . well . . . God.
Do you ever feel this way? You look around and all you see are the things you don't
have: the bank account that's dwindling, the bills that can't be paid, the things you want to buy and can't afford, the career and love life you've dreamed of that haven't happened, the blessings that everyone seems to be enjoying except you.
And in our current economic crisis it seems impossible not to be fearful, hopeless, and doubtful about the future. I hate to admit I've felt like that more than once. One day recently I realized that I was becoming exhausted--emotionally, physically, and spiritually--from thinking about and scrambling after what I didn't
have. It seemed that the more I focused on what was lacking in my life, the more anxious, bitter, and depressed I became; and the more anxious and depressed I got, the more I focused on the lack. It was a vicious cycle.
Then God invaded my mind. You need to know Me better
, He whispered softly. "Uh, NO God, I need to you help
me!" I blurted in my fear. You need to know Me better
, He whispered again. Pray Paul's prayer to the Ephesians. Open your eyes!
In Ephesians 1:17-19, I saw where God was leading me, so I prayed Paul's prayer for myself:
I keep asking that You, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, will give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know You better. I pray also that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which You have called me, the riches of Your glorious inheritance in the saints, and Your incomparably great power for us who believe.
"The eyes of my eyes are opened." e.e. cummings
And an amazing thing happened--the eyes of my heart were enlightened. They were opened. It was as if I was shaken from a deep, self-centered sleep. For the first time in a long time, I began to look at my life with new eyes, and I saw how much I had for which to be grateful. I was humbled as I realized what amazing riches I had in my life, and I mourned the fact that I had taken so much abundance for granted. How could I keep praying "more Lord, more
" when I didn't even appreciate what I already had?
To build my attitude of gratitude, I made a list of my life's blessings: a relationship with God, a loving husband, a wonderful family, good health, dear and faithful friends, sweet dogs to cuddle, work I love.
Then I added the blessings in the past
that paved the way for what I now enjoy: my parents' love and sacrifices, early encouragers and mentors, my education, my career, my life experiences and challenges, even the pain and difficulties that come that shape who I am.
As my list grew, I became overwhelmed with gratitude to God. I began giving thanks for everything
: the first whiff of coffee in the morning, the iceberg roses in my garden, my husband's healing hugs, the painting in my living room that always nourishes my soul, the juicy peaches from our orchard, my mother's cheerful voice and laughter, our grandson's beaming smile and tender heart, the iphone that's totally changed my life! I began to appreciate the small but powerful gifts of the everyday. The eyes of my heart were enlightened, and I saw some of the riches of my glorious inheritance in the saints. As I looked at my list, I realized that I was a very rich woman indeed.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Open your eyes and heart and take another look at your own life. Do you have a place to sleep, food on your table, friends and family you love and who love you, clothes to wear, music and beauty and sights that delight you, a dream that excites you? Then stop--right now--and give thanks. Let gratitude overflow in your heart.
Let's satisfy our hunger for the "good life" that we think others lead by recognizing the many blessings that already exist in our own lives. And then let's offer God the gift of our grateful hearts, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart. Celia Thaxter
May you be Abounding in Thanksgiving this holiday season!
Adapted from Beauty by the Book Chapter 15 © by Nancy Stafford (Multnomah/Random House)