Have you ever watched an eager child open presents at a birthday party? So excited about the mysteries under the wrapping paper, she can hardly acknowledge the presents she unwrapped moments earlier. She can't think to say thank you or even look at the gift's particulars. Instead, she just is excitedly in search of the next great thing to be unveiled. I am sometimes like that child-- in regards to prayer. Pressing from one big event to another (a challenge, an opportunity, a hardship), hardly acknowledging where a gift of answered prayer has been given.
How many times do we pray in earnest and God answers, but we too--like that child, don't utter much of a thank you to the Giver? We too look expectantly to the next mystery waiting to be unwrapped.
I have a relative who talks about how he prayed for many years that his children would marry spouses who loved the Lord. One by one, God answered those prayers beautifully. He once shared, "I figure for all those years I prayed, I ought to now spend equal years thanking God for how he answered those prayers." Hmmmnnn...
Earlier this week, I was reading through a prayer journal from last year's Women's Bible Study. I left many prayers open-ended on the page. I knew mentally many of them were answered, but my lack of closure on the page reminded me how the requests had long since left my mind because the urgency had passed. And did I thank God for how he had answered?
God had answered many great prayers! Wombs were opened. Husbands repented. Cancer was healed. Degrees were completed. Strength was given to serve and to love. Children were touched and healed. It brought me up short. God is AMAZING and he does great things! Yet often I say a quick, happy thanks and just move onto the next need at hand. I wonder if I look like that kid at the birthday party. Excitement and zeal are good. Being needy before God is what we are. But gratitude is good too!
What if, like my relative, I took greater time to thank God for the work he has done? I am not saying we need to dutifully spend equal time in thanks as we do in prayer, but I know I could personally spend more time than I do.
Gratitude should certainly be an overflow of the heart, but often it takes a conscious decision to slow down and appreciate the whole package: the love behind the gift, the thoughtful provision it entailed, the timeliness of the gift as well as the time and cost it took to provide it.
The conference we have been telling you about happened last week. And it was good. And God answered many prayers! Since we have been mentioning it on re:flect-I often and since many of you attended, I am compelled to also update how God answered many prayers. I want to testify to God's provision in strength for the many hands that helped serve and the many soft hearts that received the Word. We are thankful for His protection for those who needed it, for His provision over all, and mostly for Him "showing up."
I am wanting to take the time to thank Him here publicly even as we prepared here publicly. He has done great things. He is doing great things in your life too!
All of this points to how easy it is to roll along without a second thought for the gifts from the Giver. It reminds me of the 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-19
On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
May we be mindful to be one who comes back to thank Him with a full and happy heart. He is so good! All the time!
In Christ's love, Erika