Tuesday, April 21, 2015

List the Gifts!

“I’m cancer free!” a friend said to me in an e-mail.

“I’m so thankful…,” I replied. “And I’m going to write this HUGE blessing down in my 1,000 Gifts journal—NOW!”
Note: My friend knew which journal I was talking about because I’d given her one just like mine; and she, too, is experiencing big changes in attitude and outlook due to listing the “gifts” God gives day by day. (We’d started listing our gifts a couple of months ago, after beginning to read Ann Voskamp’s inspiring book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.)

My friend’s wonderful news was #587 on my list.  Next (#588) was a mention of the delicious dinner my husband and I had had with our two oldest grandsons (ages 16 and 13) at The Island Cow Restaurant on Sanibel Island, Florida. At first glance, that entry seemed far less significant than #587. However, my thankfulness for #588 increased all the more as, later that same evening, I heard about a grandmother who, along with other family members, was waiting at a hospital to find out if her granddaughter would live.

My heart ached for them, and I did pray earnestly—and late into the night—that God would help them and bring good out of that situation, which He can do, as Paul says in Romans 8:28.

Although I remained so sad about the woman’s granddaughter, I also realized how truly blessed my husband and I were to have enjoyed a yummy meal with happy and healthy grandsons.

The following morning, as I was reading Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 2 Samuel  22:1-51, I had an “ah-ha!” moment as I read these words:

Remarkable preservations should be particularly mentioned in our praises…
Those who receive signal mercies from God, ought to give him the glory.

Matthew Henry then points out that the very day God delivered David, David sang a song of praise to God, while God’s mercy was still fresh on his mind.

Dear Reader, daily listing God’s mercies, while they’re still fresh on our minds, keeps us reminded of His great goodness to us. By listing seemingly simple things like enjoying a meal with loved ones, we’ll be reminded of the remarkable preservations that He has given to us.

Apart from His tender mercies, all so undeserved, we would be the ones weeping in a hospital and praying for a life-saving miracle for a loved one.

My precious mother knew the truth of that, for she often said, “We should thank God for what He’s given us—and thank Him for what He has spared us from.”

Dear Reader, we can do both if we do two things:
1.  Notice and then list seemingly ordinary ways God says, “I love you.” For example, I’ve noticed—and written down—gifts such as these:
#25—Family photos showing “the way we were.” Happy memories!
#34—Overcast skies holding the promise of much-needed rain.
#99—Time today to “just be.”

2. Ponder the things He has spared us from. For example, relative to the three gifts above, I could also list: 
  • few unhappy memories
  • no severe drought
  • relatively few days with no time “to just be."
Even though my current list now contains almost 1800 “good gifts” I’ve received from His loving hand in less than a year since I started keeping the journal, the list could easily double if I were to also list the things He’s spared me from.

Adding to the list each day has helped me to become even more thankful for the obviously "good gifts" He's given me--and for the things He has spared me from!

A photo of pages in my "Gifts" journal

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