This past Monday in our staff meeting, Joe Weece (our Senior Minister) shared with Valley View staff some encouragement as we finish up 2014. The entire list was meaningful and useful to us, but the one that stuck out to me the most was the third item:
Express Gratitude… list 50 things.
If any of you had a year like mine, it might be kind of easy to list five or even ten things you are grateful for, but 50 seems like it might be pushing it! But, you know what? When I start to take a step backwards and think about all the events in my life that I’ve complained about, a great many of them have served me in my Christian walk.
Big changes, awkward friendships, sicknesses and difficult situations at work or at home – all of them have taught me things about living life as a follower of Jesus in fresh and immediately applicable ways! In each situation, I needed to rely on Christ for something I hadn’t needed from Him before (or so I thought). My faith has deepened so much through these events that I’ve been complaining about all year!
When I look at it through that lens, I feel kind of silly for complaining about all my little difficulties that served to illuminate God to my human eyes. Here’s the cool thing, though – in Beth Moore’s study “Inheritance” (shout-out to Ladies’ studies on Wednesday nights!) we talked about this wonderful fact, that God never downplayed the trials and struggles of living a human life on earth. He never looks down on us and gets annoyed because we’re struggling with the hard-ness of life! He knows how hard life is, and it’s because of that He sent His Son to live the hard-ness of life with us and for us. What a good God!
So here’s how I’ve decided I can start my list of 50 things:
1. God has used my difficulties to illuminate Himself to me in a new and rich way all year.
2. Jesus lived the hard-ness of life before I was born, and He totally gets how rough it is down here sometimes.
3. Despite those rocky patches where I couldn’t quite feel the closeness of my companion, I did not walk alone in 2014.
4. My wandering path led me here – Dallas, Texas – Valley View Christian Church: a community that has welcomed me and loved me like none before!
5. Someone gave me a gift card to my favorite Mexican food place a few months ago and that was awesome.
I think counting up to 50 will be way more fun than I thought at first!
Now it’s your turn, Church: it’s time to express gratitude for what God has brought you in 2014. How will you start your list?