Talking about the discipline of thankfulness and teaching our hearts to sing God’s praise, this morning in the car, and was reminded of past Easter seasons, when our small group intentionally focused on God’s good gifts. Offering up this post from two years ago, with humble thanks to the Giver of all good things….
Here in this season of Lent, instead of fasting and acts of self-denial, we are counting our thanks out on paper, feasting on Grace. We are looking ahead to Easter and the resurrection, and rejoicing in the Giver of life.
And I find this to be true, that when eyes are wide open to see “Every good and perfect gift…from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17), there is joy welling up that has little to do with visible circumstances. The Musician-King’s song echoes here: “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) Maybe not that we get some unspecified list of treats, as if we were spending the weekend with grandparents, but that the more we live in His presence, the more we experience the depths of grace and the more we can see glory all around. No wonder the saints of long ago wrote down that the primary purpose of man was to glorify God and enjoy Him forever…relating to an Eternal Almighty Being is liable to take forever, and the psalm writer says it is all joy.
And you can tell, when you spend time with people, the ones who get this mystery of thankfulness, because the daily choice to recognize Grace– when you name it in every little manifestation and offer your praise back up to the Giver– has a way of changing you on the inside. Thankfulness is courage and hope and faith held high, a shield against the Darkness all around. The daily discipline of humble thanks-giving stocks my Thought Closet with more of Him and less of me. Thankfulness chases away resentment and discontent, calms the spirit, focuses my thoughts on the things that are true and honorable and lovely, just like the Apostle Paul advised. He made that same connection between rejoicing and thanksgiving– said it should shape our lives and our prayers, promised good results: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
So as we prepare for Easter and look forward to new life springing out of the ground into green, we go on hunting for His blessings, day by day, tuning our hearts to see Grace, to sing God’s praises– and it’s like we are setting the cross of Christ in the middle of all our days. Because these many little blessings are only glimmers of that one rugged signpost to Grace, where God’s Passion made all things new.
“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
“This is amazing grace,
This is unfailing love,
That You would take my place,
That You would bear my cross.
You would lay down Your life,
That I would be set free.
Jesus, I sing for all that You’ve done for me.”
(This Is Amazing Grace, Phil Wickham)