This is certainly not an original thought, but it occurred to me again recently that my perspective can make a big difference in how I view the big and small parts of daily life. On the one hand, it can be so easy to take kindness and blessings for granted. But if I am plugged in to what God is up to, there are so many good things to notice and for which to be thankful.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
A recent example was a tiny (and I do mean tiny) addition to the wall of the ladies restroom/shower area at the indoor track where I walk. A screw had been strategically added so the blow dryer had a place to hang while not in use. I didn’t realize what big feelings I had about a home for that blow dryer(!), but I was so thankful when I saw that little addition, I took a picture!
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37: 23
Reflecting on what a difference our perspective makes also caused me to think about the words of a song Rick wrote several years ago titled “I Saw.” I think of it as a song not about people-watching really, but about people-noticing and how paying attention can help us be more aware of the world around us and the people in our path.
I highly recommend watching out for what God is up to in your life. When I do, I am reminded of how very good He is.
“Thanking Up” (Psalm 100)
The year Carla and I got married, we registered for stoneware place settings (matching plates, bowls, etc). That was 1979, and yes people ate off of plates back then. A few mornings ago I reached into a cabinet for a medium size plate. It touched something on the way out and exploded into shards, covering my hands with cuts. In that moment I learned that, after nearly four decades, stoneware becomes brittle. I was grabbing little pieces of plate before the dog walked on the floor while bleeding on the floor at the same time because multi-tasking has always been second nature to me.
Later that day I was scheduled to play guitar and sing in a church setting. As I examined my hands I realized every cut was located in an area of my hands that wouldn’t impede my ability to play guitar. I immediately thanked God.
Here’s where the slope becomes slippery for people who apply faith to life. Was God involved in that early morning kitchen episode? If so, in what way? Did God guide those jagged airborne pieces of plate so that they would only cut me where the damage couldn’t hinder my guitar playing? If so, what about all of the other faith-living people around the world who suffered cuts at around the same time? How many of them wound up in emergency rooms with serious injuries?
I am not among those who would insist God favorably directed the pieces of plate that morning, although I am definitely among those who believe God is capable of that and much more. Thanking God that morning was not about my fortuitously sliced hands; it was about my heart. Gratitude epitomizes who I aspire to be in Christ. Gratitude elevates my perspective and, ironically, strengthens my faith. I cannot explain where faith ends and gratitude begins any more than I can explain where the egg yolk ends and the egg white begins in scrambled eggs. I just know it works when I work it.
Psalm 100 animatedly describes this life of gratitude and praise.
Lift up a great shout of joy to the Lord!
Go ahead and do it—everyone, everywhere!
As you serve him, be glad and worship him.
Sing your way into his presence with joy!
And realize what this really means—
we have the privilege of worshiping the Lord our God.
For he is our Creator and we belong to him.
We are the people of his pleasure.
You can pass through his open gates with the password of praise.
Come right into his presence with thanksgiving.
Come bring your thank offering to him
and affectionately bless his beautiful name!
For the Lord is always good and ready to receive you.
He’s so loving that it will amaze you—
so kind that it will astound you!
And he is famous for his faithfulness toward all.
Everyone knows our God can be trusted,
for he keeps his promises to every generation!
(The Passion Translation)
Psalm 100 is about, among other things, thanking up. When I thank up I am not practicing superstitious or presumptuous faith. I am putting into practice a Biblical command and I am following the example of Jesus. When I thank up, I am recognizing that everything comes from God and exists by God’s power and is intended for God’s glory (Romans 11:36). When I thank up, I am being true to my belief, reinforced by my experience, that God in Christ is over all and in all and through all (Ephesians 4:6). When I thank up, that vertical momentum pulls my head out of my flawed thought life (and out of other places). When I thank up, I allow God to deliver me, once again, from my narcissistic inclinations. When I thank up, it simplifies my hopelessly complicated inner life. When I thank up, I am more in alignment with who I am and Who God is.
Singing and playing guitar later that day in a worshiping community, I didn’t explain the bandages; I was too busy worshiping.
Keep Psalm 100 close to you for a week, and let it induce you to thank up. Monitor the effect it has on you, how it changes your heart. I hope you find, like I have, that it makes you measurably and sustainably better.
Oh - and be careful with old stoneware.
Grace and peace,