Ever since my eldest sister married an American and lived there, I've heard about the wonderful Thanksgiving Day. Well, I guess I had read of it in story books before then, but she told me how special and amazing it was. The idea fascinated me. A whole nation setting aside a day in the year to express their gratitude to God? I mean, sure, we are supposed to express gratitude everyday, as Christians -- but a whole nation? That's different!
I've yet to experience an American Thanksgiving Day, (though I hope I'll get a chance sometime soon). Nonetheless, I've decided to join in the November thankfulness, Australian as I am. ;) I'd been thinking about writing a post with such a theme, but wasn't sure how or when. Chantel's GreaThings challenge has provided the perfect opportunity for this.
As I'm joining late, and (accidentally) followed last year's schedule, I'm going to do it a little differently, (as I've already written this post out.)
What does gratitude mean to me?
A heart of genuine appreciation. "Thank-you", while showing good manners, I've noticed it can be bit meaningless. As a little girl, I once gave a friend a gift. She thanked me and stuffed it in drawer. I was very disappointed and regretted giving it to her. She didn't seem to appreciate it very much. Thereafter, I decided I would always try to show any givers I was blessed by, true appreciation -- taking the opportunity to do "thank-you!" When my great aunt made me a dress, I made sure I wore it around her and showed her that I really did like it. I loved to see her proud smile as she surveyed her handiwork in use. She sensed the childish heart of genuine appreciation. Her caring gift made me smile. My obvious appreciation made her heart smile.
R is for....
I was down in the garden holding the kinked hose so that it'd be un-kinked while Mum watered. Standing there, I thought about what "R" word captured something I'm grateful for. Redemption, came to mind. The word that summarises my captivity and the act of love that freed me.
Even though Mum never taught us about wars, as children, we eventually found about them. When I heard about the atrocities Hitler committed, I instantly hated him. How could any one ever be that cruel?
My attitude changed recently when Mum explained to me what "total depravity" meant. When I realised that without God's Spirit in my heart; without redemption -- I'd be destined to be as hopeless as wretch as Hitler became, I was humbled. It was a chilling thought. Previously, I hadn't really understood the verse where Paul said that there was nothing good in him -- nothing at all. Wasn't he an astounding, godly man, one like those in Acts 15:26, who "hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"? If that's not "good", what is? That's when Mum explained that anything good in us is God's goodness in us.
The opportunity to live a fulfilled, happy life: possible because of the amazing event of Redemption... the moment in time when Jesus stepped down from heaven, where He was adored and angels joyfully fulfilled His bidding; stepped down to this earth, where He was not particularly wanted. Yet He took on our helplessness; swapped places, to give us a second chance.
A simple "Thank-you" seems puny in light of such a gift. Thinking about it, I become aware of the opportunities I have to show appreciation in action. A gift like that deserves sharing. It makes me smile to hear someone proudly show off something I've given them. ...