Tag Archives: Gratitude

Shafts of Glory

While my husband was driving us to our son’s home, I read out loud.  I read the chapter, Awe: Praising His Glory, from Timothy Keller’s book, PRAYER.

The following paragraph by Keller moved me profoundly:  First we should learn to do what C. S. Lewis speaks about in his book on prayer, Letters to Malcolm.  He deliberatively tries to see all pleasures as “shafts of the glory as it strikes our sensibility . . . . I have tried . . . . to make every pleasure into a channel of adoration.”  By “pleasure” Lewis means things as diverse as a beautiful mountain valley, delicious food, a good book, or a piece of music.  What does it mean to make every pleasure into adoration?  He quickly points out that, while we should give God thanks for every pleasure, Lewis means something more.  “Gratitude exclaims . . . . ‘How good of God to give me this.’  Adoration says, ‘ What must be the quality of that Being whose far-off and momentary coruscations are like this!’  One’s mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun.”  He learns to instinctively think “What kind of God would create this, give me this?”  He concludes that while he doesn’t succeed in always keeping this discipline, it has enriched both his joy in everyday life and his concentrated times of prayer.  He says we “shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest.”

I loved the picture in my mind of following the sunbeam back up to the sun – the discipline of not only being thankful for the sunbeam, but the subsequent adoration of the one who made and sent the sunbeam to glorify my day.  I breathed a hurried prayer, “Lord, I would love to write a blog post about this.  It would be so neat if You would give me a photograph of a sunbeam.”

I kept reading to my husband and completed the chapter.  We reached our destination and enjoyed an evening of fun and fellowship with our son and his family.  As usual, our granddaughter Alyse gave up her room for her papa and I to sleep in.  As soon as I awoke the next morning, I raised the blinds in Alyse’s room and was greeted by glorious sunbeams  peeking out from behind the tall, old evergreens that shielded the morning sun!  I grabbed my camera and ran to the front porch to start snapping pictures.

I thanked God for the sunbeams and answered prayer.  I pondered what kind of God created light and this exquisite beauty for a summer morning.  I pondered what kind of a God hears and answers prayers.  What kind of God?  A powerful creator God.  An Artist God – The Artist of all Artists.  A loving, attentive Father God.  A Father God who delights in giving His children joy.  I adored my Creator God, my Father God!

O Lord God, teach us that gratitude and adoration intersect.  Teach us to follow the sunbeams back up to the sun.  Teach us awe and wonder over what kind of God gives us such beautiful and bountiful pleasures and gifts.  Teach us to turn our gratitude into adoration.

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With Gratitude

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Oh, Give Thanks To The Lord

Last Friday my husband saw his oncologist and reported having some mild pain in the same general area where pain in 2013 had been the alert which led to the diagnosis of lymphoma.  The doctor examined Howard carefully and reassured him that a recurrence of cancer was unlikely.  A CT scan was ordered for the coming Tuesday, just to be careful and certain.     

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.   His love endures forever.”  Psalm 136:1                                                                                

Tuesday morning Howard had his scan and returned home to wait for a call from the doctor.  Late in the afternoon, the phone rang.  As I listened to my husband’s tone of voice and gazed at his demeanor, I knew the news was good.  There was no sign of cancer.  His new discomfort was blamed on some moderate degenerative joint disease in his spine.

We are filled with relief and gratitude.  As I thank God for his enduring love this afternoon, I am reminded of the last verse of the old hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross*   –   “…Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”                                                                                                                               

 * arranged by Lowell Mason/Isaac Watts –  based on Gregorian Chant

 

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God’s Glue Stick

Choosing birthday gifts for my husband has been a challenge over the years because Howard set the bar high with surprises he created for me.   One year I asked our family and friends to send new names for Howard on 4 by 6 inch cards.  I put all those notecards in a flip photo album and surprised him with it on his birthday.

One of the cards is titled: Howard – “God’s Glue Stick”.  The card says, “You have held to God’s word and have stuck to his principles, preaching profound sermons from a small church in Minnesota.  Those messages have not gone unheeded, but have been part of the glue which held a young couple together long enough for them to become a more mature couple in the Lord and to raise a family which is now serving Him, as well.”

This morning, as I meditated on my Lord’s goodness, I remembered the words from Colossians 1:17.   “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”    I thanked Jesus for being God’s Glue Stick for me.    In this season of standing beside my husband as he fights his battle with lymphoma,  I have had moments of feeling like I was about to fall apart with fear and anxiety.   I would have come undone, if Jesus wasn’t holding me together.   My husband would have fallen apart as well, if the Lord wasn’t holding him together with courage and power.

In the Season of Thanksgiving I rejoice that Howard has been a glue stick to other people and that Jesus has been THE GLUE STICK of all glue sticks for both of us.

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Faith Is The Victory

 

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Our son and daughter-in-law gave us a copy of an essay by Pastor John Piper titled, Don’t Waste Your Cancer.   One of the points Piper made was to view cancer as gift, not as a curse.

As we drove to church last Sunday, Howard told me, “I think I am getting there.  I can almost call my lymphoma a gift.  That doesn’t mean I like it or would choose it, but I can receive it as a gift with gratitude.”

Howard is coming to this attitude because in the presence of the temptation to doubt,  he knows and believes two truths.   God is Love, and God loves him.   He knows he can trust the loving purposes of his God.   If God allows cancer in his life, then that cancer will be redeemed to serve a good purpose.   This is faith.  It doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  It exists in a crucible.

The apostle John tells us:  “For everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  I John 5: 4-5

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Christmas LOVE

The Old Testament book of Hosea is a favorite of mine.   It is the story of Hosea’s love for his unfaithful wife Gomer.  It is a metaphor for God’s love for Israel and the world he promised to bless through Abraham.  In his introduction to the Book of Hosea in the Prayer Devotional Bible, Ben Patterson writes:  “New Testament scholar Anders Nygren described God’s love as “subject-centered” as opposed to “object-centered.”  Object-centered love flows because the object of love, the beloved, is so irresistibly wonderful.  This kind of love is more a reflex than a choice.  This kind of love leads one to “fall” in love.  On the other hand, subject-centered love originates in the lover, not because the beloved is so lovable , but because the lover is.  This kind of love is definitely a choice.  But it does not mean that it is any less passionate.”

God chose to love the world that breaks his heart.  He proved that love by sending his son, Jesus, to earth to show us his heart and to die for our sins.   He has shown us how to love our husbands, our wives, our children, our neighbors – not as a reflex but as a choice, as a sacrifice.  Let us love others as he has loved us this Christmas and all year long, as our gift of profound gratitude to him.

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Gratitude and Relationships

In The Good and Beautiful Life, author James Bryan Smith writes:  ” Joy. Gratitude. Thanksgiving.  Grace.  These are kingdom words. When we live with God in his kingdom, we begin to love our life. ”   He continues to make his point by quoting Rob Bell:  “Gratitude is so central to the life God made us for.  Until we can center ourselves on what we do have, on what God has given us, on the life we do get to live, we will constantly be looking for another life.”   Dr.  Smith ends his argument and paragraph by saying, “Lust is really about spiritual hunger for God and his kingdom.  Therefore our sexual problems are resolved when we enroll as Jesus’ apprentices in his glorious kingdom.”

I wonder how enriched my marriage would be, if I determined to be grateful for the strengths my husband has, rather than long for the strengths I think he lacks.   I wonder how all my relationships would be, if I was grateful for who the people in my life are, rather than expecting them to meet my needs.  I think about how happy I would be, if I trusted God to be the one who meets all my needs.   This Thanksgiving season I am determined to quit lusting after another life and praise God for all aspects of this life he has given me.

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The Problem With A Knight

A knight in shining armor.   I thought I had buried that dream, grieved and got on with life.   I told you I had in my book, Beginning Again.   Indeed I had repented of expecting my husband to be a knight.   I have long been comfortable  living with a real flesh and blood man, rather than an illusion, and extending him the same grace I want him to offer me.   I had repented of reading secular romances that are sexually explicit, and God had given me victory over that addiction.  Instead, I have read Christian romances voraciously.

All was well, or so I thought, until my husband and I sat down together to read another chapter  from The Good and Beautiful Life, subtitled, Putting on the Character of Christ.  It is a thought provoking book, and I was prepared to once again be inspired.  I was not prepared to be convicted of sin.   The author, James Bryan Smith,  explained that the Greek word epithumia, which is translated lust, did not mean ordinary attraction but meant intentionally objectifying another person for one’s own gratification.   He suggested that reading romances can be a form of objectifying a persona.   I gasped.   Understanding dawned.   I did not like what I learned about myself.

I continue to lust over the knight in shining armor.  It is why I always need to be reading a Christian romance.   Could this good addiction be the cause of a subtle discontent in my life?  I don’t expect my husband to be a knight, but I am constantly reading about knights.   Does that focus keep me from being truly and fully grateful for the fine man I live with?  I am not suggesting that this is sin for other women, but I know this is sin for me.  I am fasting from these books.   Perhaps it will need to be a permanent fast.  I want a pure heart.

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