It’s been two months now since we made our New Year’s resolutions…if we made any. I rarely do, but I did decide a couple of things since the New Year began that I’m happy to say are sticking with me! One decision came after reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and the other decision was made during a fast our church was participating in…
The book I read was written by an author that decided to write down her observation of thanks until she had 1000. I thought that was an incredible feat. And when I thought about 365 days in the coming year, if I started writing down three a day, I’d have over 1000 by the end of 2020. The best place for me to do this was in this beautiful planner I ordered from Good Housekeeping. It not only is a planner but it has photos, inspiration, recipes and more. I started with 1-2-3 on January 1 and continued from there, each morning or evening writing down little, or big, things for which I was thankful.
Honestly, it wasn’t as easy or dynamic at first as I thought it would be. I found myself thanking God for obvious things like the usual – food, a good day – things we all give thanks for at least every so often.
And some days if I forgot, it required me to think back about the details of that day, to stop and observe. As the days went on, I began thanking God for things he was doing in my heart and my soul, not just the external blessings I could see. It’s been an awesome journey, giving thanks for three items a day, and I just penciled in #84! I look forward to looking back to see God’s faithfulness as the year rolls on…
The second thing I mentioned was a fast. Some people fasted food or time from electronics or social media, but I couldn’t really get into any of those. Finally, on the third week I felt like I was to fast from petitions – asking God for things. Here’s why:
I pray a lot, I count it a privilege to pray for others, and an honor. However, if I’m not careful my entire prayer time is spent begging and pleading for answers and healing and provision. And when I’m done with that, I’m exhausted and don’t feel like sitting and listening and praising and being. So I felt prompted to at least for one week, to only give thanks.
Boy, what a week it was! Illness, super-sized needs, a death of a friend, and so much more happened in one short week. My usual response would have been to fall on my face and moan and groan, cry and squirm while I pleaded with God for help. That’s not a bad thing, but it had become my only thing.
Turning those requests into declarations of thanksgiving did something. I tasted pockets of peace that I hadn’t tasted in years. Somehow, giving thanks that he is my Father – he’s up there in heaven with a different perspective – and His name is hallowed and great – settled my soul. No, it wasn’t a fix-all where I gave thanks the first day and I was at peace all week. It came daily as I gave thanks, and then the next day and the next.
Two months have now passed and I’m still going on the thanks in both areas – written in my planner – and spoken on my lips.
There’s a reason, I’m sure, that he said “in everything give thanks” and I see that it’s not only to declare our trust in Him but to experience life without constant upheaval on stormy seas. Before that phrase in that verse, it says to rejoice always and pray continually. This is His will. And later it says, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” Do what? Sanctify us through and through. That means we will be set apart from all else – and that includes fear.
Join me in writing down your thanks and changing your verbiage during prayer…let’s see how we are transformed together. Pretty exciting stuff…