Thank You, Jesus.

SCRIPTURE:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

STORY:

Easier said than done, you know? To have joy all the time. To pray without end. To be grateful in your highest highs and lowest lows.

Coming off of Thanksgiving weekend and headed right into advent season, I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude. I always try to spend the month of November intentionally stirring up thankfulness in my heart — writing down the things I’m grateful for every day.

I wasn’t honestly that consistent with it this year, but here’s what I love about this practice: on the days I intentionally give thanks, I always find myself meeting with Jesus in ways I wouldn’t normally pay attention to in the mundane moments of my every day life.

There’s this thing that happens when we actually make room for Him (more on that later this week): we enter into His presence and it transforms us.

But it doesn’t just transform us. It shifts entire atmospheres, and it makes us see things through Heaven’s eyes instead of our own. I find myself noticing the hand of God at work in the tiniest corners of my heart that I didn’t even realize were there when I just stop and say thank you. I start to realize that what I’m actually doing when I train my mind towards gratitude is noticing the presence of a Savior who’s been there all along.

Last night at church, we served communion for the first time. (If you’re reading the blog for the first time, I’m on staff at a new church plant in Salt Lake City.) Our pastor talked about gratitude, and about shifting our focus from the gift to the Giver.

I stood there at the front, serving communion and holding a cup of grape juice masquerading as wine, and one by one I watched as people whose lives I’ve watched be transformed by Jesus these last few months came forward to say, “Thank you, Jesus. All I want is you.”

And one by one tears streamed down my face (a few of them landing in aforementioned glass of grape juice), as I thanked Him in my own heart, remembering all over again that when our hearts are fully yielded to Him, we can’t help but be grateful. We can’t help but be changed.

We can’t help but rejoice always. We can’t help but pray continually. Not because it’s what we should do. Because it’s all we know how to do.

Thank you Jesus.

SONG:

“Jesus I Come”
Elevation Worship
Wake Up the Wonder

Listen:
Apple Music  |  Spotify  |  YouTube

Playlist from previous weeks:
Apple Music  |  Spotify

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Showing Up & Giving Thanks

At 10 pm I found myself once again staring at a blank white screen, drained of every ounce of creativity and eloquence I once held. I’ve been running really hard in every direction except for the one I feel like I’m made for: to write. To share stories of adventure and heartache; of failures and victories. To illuminate the dark nights of your souls with words of truth and life.

But I’m so tired. I’m strategizing for a church plant. I’m in school. I’m working 30 hours. I’m trying to nurture my marriage and maintain my friendships in my little bits of spare time. Head space is not a thing of abundance in my life in this season.

So last night, I gave up. I felt like I had nothing to give, so I walked away in frustration and sat next to my husband on the couch and I pouted. When I get tired, I start to grumble — and friends, I am beyond tired in this season.

So there I was, exhausted and broken, discouraged and honestly grieving that I feel less than adequate to maintain this little corner of the internet that’s mine. And I think maybe this is the state God prefers me in — when I literally can not move forward unless He makes a way.

How fitting that we should be celebrating Thanksgiving this week. That in the midst of feeling perhaps the weakest I have ever felt, it is right to give thanks. It is right to fight complacency and inadequacy and discouragement with gratitude. What I’ve learned, honestly, is that gratitude is the only weapon I have for fighting those things.

I wish I could say I sat down and immediately started giving thanks, and everything was lovely from that point on. But… tired Sara prevails, and the grumbling was louder than the gratitude. So instead I found myself arguing with my sweet, innocent, loving husband for no good reason. I was easily offended because I was frustrated about other things. I was slow to be gracious because I felt entitled to something better than what I was feeling.

Ugh. I hate when I have moments like that.

We resolved our conflict and everything was fine. He prayed for me like he does every night before we go to sleep, and I went to bed while he finished watching a football game. My head hit the pillow and immediately tears were streaming down my face.

Lord, what is going on with me? I found myself praying that Psalm 139 prayer, “Search my heart and know me. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Whatever was in my heart that felt so heavy, I was ready to hand it over. I couldn’t carry it any longer.

I felt like He said, gently, “Sara, I am uprooting the selfishness that still lives in your heart. Are you ready to hand the rest of it over?”

I wept. I knew I had let my season define my attitude. I knew I had neglected the weapon that is gratitude and taken up bitterness and control like a shield, thinking they would be the things to protect me.

So I handed it over, and with nothing left in my hands, I gave thanks. And this morning, I woke up feeling discouraged and inadequate again. But I sat down here and I gave Him my few loaves and fish, and somehow in all of His kindness, He promises it will be multiplied.

A lot of days I feel like I don’t really know how to keep showing up for my life. Not in a morbid I don’t want to be here kind of way — but in a “I’m not sure I have the endurance to keep running this race” kind of way.

But somehow there’s grace. Somehow we keep going. Somehow we believe that every word from God is true, and just to believe and keep going is counted to us as righteousness.

So today I’m showing up. I’m giving thanks. And I’m letting Him do all the rest.