Gratitide has been a bit of a recurring theme in my life lately. And I guess if you gotta have something tripping through your mind a lot, gratitude sure beats a lot of other stuff that could be jamming my brainwaves.
We just completed a ladies' Bible study that considered the role that gratitude plays in a Christian's life. We read the book, "Choosing Gratitude," by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I highly recommend it. Our last meeting was last Tuesday. To wrap up the final meeting & really cement in our minds what gratitude is all about & how important it is for it to be spoken (to the Lord in our prayers & also to the people who have blessed us), our pastor's wife, Bekah had us do a little exercise. We were sitting in a circle & we started with the first lady to Bekah's left. Each one of us in the circle got a turn to mention something that we were thankful for in that lady. It could be a personality trait (she's so friendly! energetic!), a character quality (she has such a servant's heart! she is so honest!), or something that she had done (she had our entire family over for dinner! she lovingly confronted me!). You get the idea? I don't think that any of us were too excited when Bekah explained the exercise. We all squirmed just a little bit. I was happy to think of ways that those ladies had been a blessing to me but I did not look forward to my turn to listen. It embarassed me. It humbled me. And it really encouraged me. It helped me realize that the work the Lord has done on me has not gone unnoticed. That brings me joy because it brings Him glory. It took a long time to get around that circle but it was such a blessing. It was just what we all needed.
Then this past Sunday night Pastor Jeff gave the congregation an opportunity to give testimonies. I love it when folks pop up & tell you what has been on their minds & hearts. I sat there & literally felt the goodness of the Lord fall over me like a waterfall. I listened with tears in my eyes & joy in my heart as church family members got up one by one to give God the glory for lessons learned, prayers answered, hurts being healed, & grace being accepted to deal with difficult situations & life changes. The only thought that coursed through my mind was, "Who am I, Lord?" I have SO MUCH. I have a family. In addition to that, the Lord has blessed me with a constant, caring church family. And if that wasn't enough, He allowed me to join Michael's family. It humbles me to think that the Lord has counted me worthy of being a part of these precious groups of people. He knew there would be dysfunction; He knew what I would need & He knew what others would need. And then He wisely & tenderly grouped us together so that we could have an impact on one another - so that some iron could sharpen iron & so that we could love, support, & comfort one another. I have been overwhelmed by His love & kindness.
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!