Each December, I pray about a word for the new year. I usually spend weeks pondering “my” word, thinking through what was going on in my life, asking God for His direction. However, this year I knew what my word was to be for the first year quite early. God had been dealing with my heart long before I roasted the Thanksgiving turkey.
My word for the coming year was to be… THANKFUL!
For you see, God has been teaching me that to truly embrace the life He has given and all the joys He has provided… one must have a thankful heart.
What has He been teaching me?
First, I thank Him for all good things. The Word tells us that all good gifts come from the Father. I have learned to thank God whenever I see something good in my life.
I often send up a quick prayer for the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, newborn babies, good books, Maine Coon kitties, Lindt Lindor milk chocolate truffles, pepperoni pizza, and ummm… grandchildren.
Second, I thank Him for answers to prayer. Sometimes an answer is profound and life changing… and I thank Him. Most often the answers are small, silent, and almost lost in the busy-ness of everyday living… I stop and thank Him.
How thrilling it has been to see Him at work in such a real and substantial way. Just to think, the One who created the very air we breath cares enough to answer our needs and grant even a few Godly desires here and there.
Third, I thank Him when I have seen Him work through others. I saw His love when a friend sent a gift, a need was answered, my non-Christian neighbor plowed snow from our driveway, the firemen arrived to protect our house after a lightening strike, and the kind policeman in town drove my husband home after our van broke down.
My prayer is that I can be His eyes, His ears, His hands… His Love to a lostworld. I ponder if it is easy for others to see Christ in me?
Fourth, I thank Him for Creation. I admit to being a person who feels Him more when walking down our gravel lane, hiking a forest, or standing at the edge of Lake Michigan. How can one not feel His presence in the beauty of nature? (Well, I still haven’t completely understood the need for mosquitoes…)
I love to listen to beautiful music on my itty bitty iPod whileon the walking the path near town. When one does not have to worry about passing cars, it is easy to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.
Fifth, and perhaps most important, I thank Him for the journey. When I look back on my life, I realize how He has used affliction to mold and shape me into the person who is His idea… far from perfect but growing in Him each year.
Life has had its unexpected twists and turns, far more than I would have liked. But it was often those very seasons of adversity… those in which I stomped my feet and pouted and grumbled and whined… that guided me to that bend in the road which later led to the good stuff of life.
It was in those days, weeks, months of great discomfort that I would cling to Him the most. How many times I remember telling Him that if He didn’t answer prayer… I would not survive the day. Those were the times in which I felt under such affliction, I had to remind myself to breath.
However, now I thank Him for the journey. I still can’t say I understand all of it. But I have learned to thank Him even when I do not understand. For I know I can trust His love and His character, even when the journey is passing through paths of dense fog and I cannot see around the next bend.
How does this translate to living life in the New Year?
I have a pretty notebook on my desk, a place for the making of lists in The Year of Our Lord 2013. If I am to remember, I must write it down. For you see, I can choose a word or make a plan but it must have a place to land from thinking to doing.
Along with favorite books read, wisdom found, etc…. I now have a section for a gratitude journal (as recommended by Ann Voskamp). This is the year to show Him I am thankful… a year of remembering what He has done and being grateful for all.