"We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks.
Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace."
-AnnVoskamp from one thousand gifts
For me right now it's about grace and thanksgiving and "please give me a heart that loves others as you love me." I think it started with the love prayer as I noticed how unloving I could be. Like the time I was asked to meet with someone who was making a wrong moral choice. I started out listening well, but I think I was more concerned that she hear the truth than I was about loving her and extending grace. God's kindness that leads us to repentance was lost in my translation of God's love language. Or unloving times towards myself where condemnation and accusation were winning at beating me up. And realizing how my proneness to rejection was an indication of how wrapped up I was in self. Those vain imaginations had no problem blowing up nobodylikesme balloons. They could throw a mean party in record time!
So I became intentional about praying the love prayer more regularly. And the message of grace seemed to appear everywhere. Grace that was audacious enough to suggest that God's love for me was constant, in my failures, in my sin, in my successes and in everything in between. His rebukes were not scoldings to shame me, but stern reminders that His forgiveness had already covered all my sins and He was ready to pick me up and continue on, using the experience to teach me more about depending on Him and keeping in step with the Spirit. I really don't think any of us can love like He does until we understand more about His amazing love to us demonstrated by the grace he shows us through Jesus. I want grace to be the hound dog that sniffs out any self righteousness and better than thou substances hiding in my attitudes and belief system.
"If it took grace to save us, how can we think that it takes our own skill to make it in the Christian life? If our own efforts and merit couldn't take care of our sin and failure in the first place, what makes you think they can now?" -Kay Arthur
The practice of praying before eating is often referred to as 'saying grace'. Saying grace is giving thanks. Grace is undeserved favor and comes from the Latin work gratia. One meaning of gratia is gratitude or thanks. I'm discovering how closely related a grace-filled heart is to a thankful heart. In this quest to learn how to love, it's been important to keep a heart of thanksgiving. It's hard to be critical and judgmental of others when I'm being thankful for their good qualities. When I remember my friendships are undeserved gifts from my Father, my thankfulness overlooks their faults and my love for them can grow. When a fault can't be overlooked, I am thankful His grace is teaching me how to love enough to be honest and not overlook sins that can blind us and bring harm and deception.
"Thanksgiving---giving thanks in everything---is what prepares the way for salvation's whole restoration. Our salvation in Christ is real, yet the completeness of that salvation is not fully realized in a life until the life realizes the need to give thanks."
--Ann Voskamp in one thousand gifts
So is the prayer working? I believe, yes...at least I see glimpses of growth. I get another opportunity to listen to a heart caught up in ungodly things. This time I am much more aware of His grace breathing between us and around us. There is a rhythm to this grace and I want to work with the Healer and Reformer toward wholeness. But I only get the chance the one or two times we meet and then our time is cut off. Instead of succumbing to the why I wasn't the one to continue with her in the journey, I know I have danced in His grace with her and I will be confident that He is working for the best in her and me. No big deal...Yes! big deal, for rejection and condemnation had little to say in the matter. And I mean just a little, compared to the filibusters they got away with before. It must be His love is working miracles in me and I am thankful.
Ann Voskamp made a list of 1,000 gifts she was thankful for.
My thanksgiving list, for now:
-red burning bushes of Fall
-breakfast with friends
-reaching out and touching with texting
-a new recipe - pumpkin dip
-a cup of robust coffee to start the day
-the newest find at a resale
-Pandora station of praise music
-lying in bed beside the man who loves me
-an unexpected contact with a friend on a Facebook chat
-playing Euchre with friends
What are you thankful for right now? Are you being loved extravagantly? Are you better than you deserve?
Keep working, Father. Even when I sleep, your word says you instruct me. I open my heart to your amazing love and grace.