Thursday, November 17, 2011

Heart of Thankfulness Chapter 2

Hey friends---I am glad you're back for week two. This week Nicole is sharing with us!  Enjoy! 
This is a Greek word that means “thanksgiving”.  But, if you break it down, it means so much more. 
Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, Charis.  But, it also hold the derivative, the Greek word, chara, meaning ‘joy’… A triplet of stars, a constellation in the black.  A threefold cord that might hold a life?  Offer a way up into the fullest life?  Grace, thanksgiving, joy, Eucharisteo.  A Greek word… that might make meaning of everything?” (Vos Kamp)
If I could, I would quote the entire second chapter to you.  Vos Kamp talks about how a life absent of thanksgiving is how this world fell into sin.  As Eve decided that the things God gave weren’t enough, she fell into sin.  She fell into a darkness that couldn’t be matched. 
Without thanksgiving, how easy is to fall into sin? 
As I have started to re-read this book, there is something that Ann said that really struck me.  She was talking about the places in the world that books, magazines, and travel gurus tell you that you “must go before you die?”  Really?  Do we HAVE to visit these places in order to be ready to die?
“Why?  To say that I’ve had reason to bow low?  To say that I’ve seen beauty?  To say that I’ve been arrested by wonder?  Isn’t it here?  Can’t I find it here?”
As a travel lover, and avid “when” girl, this got me.  I’m always saying “when this happens”, “when I go here”, “when I experience this”…
Why does joy and thankfulness have to depend on anything?  Why can’t I just find it right here, in my everyday life?
Thanksgiving in every and any circumstances changes things.
Vos Kamp uses some of the miracles of Jesus to talk about how thanksgiving changes things.  Jesus gave thanks over a loaf of bread and few fish… and then He fed thousands.  As Jesus cried over the death of Lazarus, He thanked God for hearing Him… Lazarus rose from the dead. 
“Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle.”   
Thanksgiving is essential to Christianity.  How can we fully accept what Christ has done if we live a life of ingratitude?
Or what about just being apathetic?  Not being outright ungrateful, but not being grateful either.  Living a life where you just “get by”.  Living a life without having true joy in your heart.  A life where you just make it day by day. 
I won’t lie, I’ve lived my life like that.  I’ve had times in my life where I just live to see the next day.  But, if I’m being honest here, is that ever really enough?  No, it’s not.
Ann was given a challenge from a friend.  To truly understand Eucharisteo, to fully learn how to have joy right where you are, she gave her this challenge:  Write down (throughout a year) 1,000 gifts from God.  Not big things, but everyday gifts that we often look past.  Ann’s first few gifts looked like this.
1.  Morning shadows across the old floors.
2.  Jam piled high on toast.
3.  Cry of blue jay from high in the spruce.
It’s nothing extraordinary, just normal things that you choose to be grateful for.
It has been such a journey since I have decided to choose thankfulness and I would be lying if I told you that I have chosen thankfulness each and every time.  I certainly have not.  But, I have learned one important lesson.  The more thankful we are, the more room we give God to move and work.  If all we see is what we don’t have, what we can’t achieve, what’s not happening we are looking at God through foggy glasses.  God is bigger than our circumstances.
Thankfulness allows us to better understand his sovereign power in our lives.
A few questions for you to think about…
Without thanksgiving, how easy is it to fall into sin?
Can you live a life of complacency and life a life of thanksgiving at the same time?
Are their strategic steps you can take to be more aware of the gifts in front of you?
Here are my answers to these question….
Without thanksgiving, it is so easy for my heart to become bitter.  I see what everyone else has, and am bitter at God for not giving me more.  When I give thanks, I see what He has given and am so blessed!  I want to keep my eyes on what I have been given.
For me, a life of thankfulness is not necessarily a life of complacency.  It doesn't mean that I don't have dreams and goals, but rather that I continually surrender them to God, and am thankful for what He gives in return.
For me, writing the gifts in a journal just as Ann did has made me so much more aware of them. I don't always write them, but I am continually looking at the world and at my situations with eyes that are looking for gifts.  It's a love story from God--and we get to see the gifts daily, if only we will look!
We want to hear your answers, too!
Leave them in the comments!

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