Yesterday I bought the ingredients for my family's Thanksgiving dinner. I laughed with the checkout man saying, "I won't be back, Eddie! I am totally together this year." He looked over his glasses with the look that said, "Oh, if I know you, you will be back tomorrow." While I already know that garbage bags and sliced almonds are on the new list, the big things are done. The turkey is resting, feeling like he has a special place in our midst. The cranberries are bought, waiting to pop, thicken and tantalize. The pumpkin and pecans are waiting on the shelf to be beckoned forth for the dueling pie fest. Just like the flavors that all come together every Thanksgiving, we come together too, rallying our gratitude, expressing our thanks to others and to God for our many blessings. Naming them one by one, as the song goes, is a good exercise. Giving words to your heart feelings is a good thing - it is when we really live. Like Thorton Wilder reminds us, "We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
The card shop has tiny "grateful" cards to help us be conscious of our treasures.. You can't write much on that card. I wonder if some people could even fill the space. Could I? Some of us have been listing five things every day for which we are grateful. Try it. Let's see. 1-a husband who likes to cook; 2-adult children who come around often; 3 - sisters and a brother who stay in touch across the miles; 4 - a cardinal outside my window; 5- a new book started that has captured me in a few pages. There. But I also loves the way Anne Voskamp lists her gifts of praise: sun pouring through the red leaves; crisp air; fleece robes; a mailman's wave; God's presence, a heart full, praise in my soul, life worth living. You can do this!
Praise and thanksgiving should be a regular part of our life, not just as the calendar that looks toward the last Thursday in November. When it becomes part of our daily life, it's much easier to look around and see all of the gifts. But the gratitude comes from the state of our heart and must be cultivated, nurtured and developed. You don't just get up one day and feel grateful. So how is your heart today? Is it being fed by Godly purposes? Or is your own understanding in charge of your heart?
Proverbs 3:5 says Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not on your own understanding. Two powers are at work here. The mind gathers knowledge and prepares food for nourishing the heart. So what kind of knowledge is being gathered in your mind - if your heart feels empty, it may be because you haven't fed it with God's word or spent time alone with Him to fill your heart with His thoughts. The verse says first to trust God with your heart. Then it say to not depend on your own ability. Trust first, then work out the understanding.
Scripture instructs in I Chronicles 16 to simply give thanks to God. It teaches that true thanksgiving comes by: remembering in our hearts what God has done, telling others about it, showing it, and offering gifts of praise. In other words, let it be known. Theodore Roosevelt said it well: Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.