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Last week I devoured Terri Blackstock's new book, If I'm Found. I say devoured because any moment I was standing still, sitting on the couch with the kids, or not needing to be paying attention to something else I had the book in my hand. Even with all my other obligations I think it only lasted me two and a half days.
The book was fabulous and a great sequel to the first book in the series, If I Run, which is what got me hooked on Blackstock in the first place. But it wasn't the book that stuck with me this time. I mean, yes, it was great and I might have asked Micah how I'm supposed to hold off until March of 2018 for the next book in the series but it was the Notes from the Author section at the back that have been rolling over in my brain since I put the book down.
In the Notes section Terri Blackstock mentions a letter she received from a fellow author about intentional gratitude after losing his mother to cancer. He was lost and grieving intensely but something as simple as a sunset brought him out of his grief and back into communion with God.
How easily do we forget about thanking God for EVERYTHING. Oh sure, when I'm praying I thank Him for my husband, our children, our health, and for generally blessing us, but what about the other things? The things we so easily take for granted because they are always there?
This weekend I started a different Terri Blackstock series. Last Light is the first book in the Restoration Series. The book follows one family as they cope with the aftermath of a huge event - no electricity, no cars, no running water. Anything that uses any type of wiring is useless. People are beginning to freak out and hoard the items they have. Some are resorting to theft and violence to get what they need. And this family, people who are supposed to be Christians, are hoarding along with them and panicking at what they will do when it runs out.
I can't put this book down. I forced myself to step away for a few moments to write this post because it really made me realize how dependent we are on our technology and conveniences in this country. If we no longer had lights, ways to keep our food fresh or even to get food, a way to get clean water, means of transportation, medical equipment, or all these other modern day inventions that make life so incredibly easy, could we survive? Do we realize how easy we have it?
I found myself running through a list of things I'm grateful for as I made lunch on Monday. A faucet that pours out clean water by simply turning it on. A fridge that keeps an ABUNDANCE of food fresh and ready for our consumption. Cars that transport our family wherever we need in relatively short amounts of time. Lights that can be turned on and off at the flick of a switch. A stove, oven, microwave, and toaster oven for eating our food to safe temperatures.
How privileged we are! And yet how often do we thank God for these things?
Before realizing where the saying came from I would hear "pray without ceasing" and thought that it meant to keep up with telling God everything that I wanted Him to do or heal or fix. A constant stream of needs. It was when I looked up the whole verse that the message became clear -
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Always, without ceasing, in all circumstances. Good or bad, prosperous or lacking, healthy or sick. Always, without ceasing, in all circumstances.
As you wash your dishes after dinner tonight thank God that you have hot, clean water directly out of your tap. As you walk up your stairs thank God for the spacious house you live in - even if it's only 800 square feet. As you look out the window and see your kids fighting over a ball thank Him that they are safe to play outside. As you look over your dwindling bank account thank Him for the small amount you do have and the opportunity to earn more. As you go for a walk thank Him for the clean air, the blades of grass, the growing flowers, the shining sun.
Turn your privileges into prayers of gratitude. And use the abundance you have, even if it doesn't seem like much, to help someone else. Ask God to show you where you can be used, how you can help, what you can share. And thank Him without ceasing.
I've created a printable journal for you to use to keep track of your prayers and praises. There are a few different versions because I wanted this to be something that could work for anyone and everyone. There are full sheet pages to place in a binder or half sheet sizes to tuck in a notebook or your Bible.
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How do you thank God for everything? Where do you keep track of your prayers and praises?