Still no word from Belinda via the Internet, so here I am again...
It's Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving is all about focusing in on what we are grateful for.
There was a time when gratitude did not come easily for me. I would really have to work at it to see the good side of anything. It was always, always easiest - and still is my natural inclination - to focus on the "justice" and the "fairness" of a situation rather than simply being grateful for all the good that can be found. But I have learned through experience that there is great power that flows through our lives just from the simple act of adopting an "attitude of gratitude" and leaving the unfairness of a situation up to God.
This week at a staff retreat I had occasion to view a video teaching by Erwin McManus entitled "The Character Matrix" which had been originally recorded at a leadership conference in 2003. In that video, McManus says a number of important things about gratitude, but I will zero in on just one:
The only way a person can develop wholeness is through gratitude.
Looking at my own life and the level of brokeness I was at ten years ago, I have to say this is absolutely true. The results of eventually giving up my own efforts to change and adopting an "attitude of gratitude" are clearly evident. Focusing on my problems and on the causes and on the negative actions of others only got me more and more deeply mired in the pit I was hopelessly trapped in. As I learned to turn my attitude around and focus on what I have to be grateful for, healing and wholeness, something I had been actively seeking to little avail, just began to 'happen" all by itself. An increasing sense of "wholeness" has become a natural outgrowth of adopting a grateful attitude.
Forgiveness is the pre-requisite for developing a grateful heart. That means letting go of past hurts and the heart's quest for "justice". The justice part can be left to God. He takes that very seriously. And He doesn't expect us to forgive blindly. Every single thing that has ever been done to you or me, every single thing we have ever done to others, was satisfied completely when Jesus went to the cross. Isaiah 53 in the New American Standard Version says, "But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief..." It was Jesus who was crushed for our injustices. It was all taken out on him. Justice has been done - completely fulfilled. Jesus suffered - and he suffered enough - for what was done to me, and for what I have done to others. That means I am free to forgive -no strings attached. I can forgive both others and myself (equally important!).
So the thing I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving Weekend, at this moment, is the powerful gift of "gratitude". Thank you Father, for providing me with such a good role model (Belinda) when it comes to living in a state of gratitude -- someone who would not let me settle for anything less. And thank you for gratitude and the work that it does in my life -- displacing brokeness for wholeness in You.
"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude." Colossians 2:6,7 NASB
What are you grateful for?