When was the last time you had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? (Anybody remember Alexander???)
Last Friday, I had the day-to-beat-all-days for no apparent reason. I kept praying, “Lord, please help me unscramble this.” As the day progressed, it became nearly impossible to unscramble. My only hope was to tuck tail and head home.
I’d run errands from my lengthy list. Each of which should’ve taken ten to fifteen minutes-max, many took over an hour, further frustrating yours truly.
I got stuck waiting on a train.
(Use your imagination to add about fifty more cars waiting in line. I would be forty-ninth….)
I got stuck behind a woman in the Walgreen’s drive-thru’ who had so many prescriptions, they wouldn’t fit in the tube. Thus, she had to get out of her car to retrieve them.
Once back in her car, she remembered she needed to ask the pharmacist a question. Oh, but she couldn’t remember the name of the drug, so had to fish in her bottomless purse to find the name. Then the pharmacist had to look up the medicine and finally tell her “No Ma’am, we are out of it.”
These were only two of ten terribly taxing scenarios testing me this horrible, no good, very bad day.
It was at this very moment a lightening bolt of revelation hit me. I’d already grumbled enough to my poor husband, who’d merely phoned earlier to check on me.
I was also relentlessly grumbling to God–just like the Israelites grumbled to Him when He kept giving them manna. They declared they hated it! (Numbers 21:5 NLT) Sadly, in both cases, nothing satisfied.
The lightening bolt? God gingerly reminded me that only twenty-four hours prior I’d posted a blog about, well, um, yeah, being thankful.
Remember the “Stop and Give me Ten” game? (Please see “Drop and Give Me Twenty” post for more information…..) I began laughing out loud in my car. BEYOND BUSTED…
“Ok, Lord, I’m listening….Here are my ten immediate blessings:
(I held up my ten fingers, pressing one-by-one down on the steering wheel as I proceeded to rattle off blessings, while still patiently waiting in the Walgreen’s line.)
1 – I’m healthy today.
2 – I’m blessed with a TDH (tall, dark, and handsome) husband in a thirty-year-old marriage.
3 – I’m blessed with a wonderful family.
4 – I sorta like our, dog, Gracie. (Kidding, sorta.)
5 – I love it when the Lord “catches” me on something I should know better. (I needed this, thank you.)
6 – John and I are blessed with great friends.
7 – I love my Bible study buddies.
8 – I’m excited Bev’s bringing her chocolate, chocolate chip pound cake to our Friendsgiving. (Like really excited…)
9 – I know I’ve gotta write about this little tirade….but that’s good because I love to write, and perhaps someone may relate.
10 – I’m beyond grateful for your lavish grace, Lord Jesus.
So, I promised we’d learn how to grow grateful and stay there this Thanksgiving. Here’s a little help from another favorite author, Max Lucado. This is from his newest book, Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer.
This Thanksgiving Week, I pray we will all attempt Max’ suggestion and go thru’ the entire alphabet, yes, all twenty-six letters, and assign something corresponding for which we’re thankful. (Take this into December…you probably have too many guests to consider this now….but do give it a try when you can….)
Allow me to share a few of Max’ alphabet:
“A – For Andy” (Max’ dog)
“B – Bald spots” (Hey, whatever works!)
“C – Chocolate” (Shocking, this did not come from me, but would match my list exactly for the letter ‘c’.)
“D – Dictionaries” (Love this! Max is a wordsmith, so no surprise.)
“E – Exercises – like this one. This was Denalyn’s idea.” (Denalyn is Max’ wife.)
“Alphabetize your blessings.
***Rather than catalog burdens, itemize benefits.***
This is a sure cure for the grumpy spirit.”
Max says, “The next time I make the list, my wife trumps dictionary. Which, by the way, is a lesson of this exercise. A person never runs out of reasons to say ‘thanks’.
To say thanks is to celebrate a gift.
Gratitude is a dialysis of sorts.
It flushes the self-pity out of our systems.”
And then, as only Max can do, he gently reminds us that God’s Word repeats over and over “giving thanks is not a suggestion; it is a command…more than a hundred times, either by imperative or example, the Bible commands us to be thankful.”
The opposite of being thankful is being ungrateful. Max warns,
“Ingratitude is a devil’s brew.
Max tells of a dear friend of his named Jack. Jack was dying from heart disease. Max went to visit him and said, “Jack, I hear you’re not doing so well?”
“Oh, Max,” he corrected with a weak smile. “Never better.”
“They say you can’t sleep.”
“No, I can’t. But I can pray.”
“I just talk to Jesus, Max.
I tell him I love him.
I tell him how good he is.
I tell him, ‘Thanks’.
These are good times for me.
I’m just talking to Jesus.’”
Jack died the next morning after Max’ visit. He died “with a thankful and hope-filled spirit, with gratitude.”
Our minister, Kyle Idleman, expounds beautifully on I Thessalonians 5:18. (See the verse in the above picture.) When you have the time, I highly recommend you watch this week’s sermon, “Grace is Greater Than Your Circumstances.” www.southeastchristian.org
Get those pens and papers out, and write out your ABC’s. Or, if you’re never without your cell phone, make your list on it. (This activity is found in Chapter 8 of Before Amen. Checkout Max’ list and then make your own.) This is well-worth your time. Perhaps in between the turkey and the stuffing….
And don’t just do this once. Keep at it. It’ll enrich your Christmas season, your New Year, and on into 2015…it’ll reframe your outlook.
I pray you and your family have a most wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving!
‘Til next time!
P.S. Max’ book on Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine is another excellent book for reframing your outlook.. Click on Lets Give Some Grace for Christmas for more on this book.