Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thank You

We do not need to say please when bringing our hearts before God (see yesterday), but there is certainly a Biblical mandate to be generous with our thank yous.  It's something that, if we're being honest, I struggle with.  Not because I'm not thankful but because...well...

Fairly often, I find myself mumbling a sincere and relieved "thank You" under my breath, usually after some awesome, incredible, or much-needed thing has happened.  Even if it's something small.  You know, like if I know I'm running late and I seem to make all the stoplights.  Or if I'm speeding through the store to pick up a few essentials, and there's one package left of something on my list and I find it buried in the back of the shelf somewhere.  Or if I've had a moment - that moment - that is just so perfectly right and unassuming and quiet and unexpected that I can't help but smile to myself and whisper a thank You.  Just because God is incredible.

It is important to thank God in such times, big and small, perfect and unexpected, because we need to remember where every good thing comes from.  And thanks is such an important concept to faith that God created a special offering just for that.  Did you know?

Go back to the Old Testament, to the books of Moses.  Around Leviticus and Deuteronomy; that section.  There, God lays out the rules for the offerings, the sacrifices that His people should bring before Him according to their hearts.  There is an offering for sin, so that the people had a way to bring brokenness before God.  An offering for guilt, again to bridge a gap between man and Maker.  Offerings for fellowship and first harvests, ways to draw closer to the God of presence and provision.  Offerings for dedication, for worship, for atonement.  Offerings just because, because there are some times we long to bring something to God but have no earthly idea what to give Him.  And offerings for thanks.  Whole, dedicated sections of Scripture to tell the people of God how to thank Him.  It was that important.

And I love my little smiles, the whispers under my breath.  I love the good, unexpected moments I share when I can't help but let out a little thank You.  It's just that I guess it feels shallow to me.  It feels hollow.  Because I find myself thanking God for the littlest of things, the minutest details of life, and anything I think He's done for me, but so rarely do I remember to thank Him just for being.  So few times do I offer my thanks that simply, He is.

I believe so powerfully in the God who is more than just the God who can (and does) do for me.  I believe so strongly that our relationship with God, my relationship with God, cannot be based on merit or work.  He tells us that He is not interested in such things from us, that we cannot earn our salvation, that we cannot merit His love, and the truth is that I'm not that interested in such things from Him.  It's cool and all that God walks beside me.  It's amazing that He takes the time to listen to, to understand, and to care for my heart.  It's incredible that I smile as often as I do for the silliest little things I know can only be from Him.

But that's not what our relationship should be based on.  Not the whole thing, I mean.  Of course I thank the Lord for saving me.  I thank the Son for dying in my place so that I can have life and the hope that is life eternal.  It just seems to me that if I love God only for the things He does for me, it's kind of selfish, isn't it?  Like I will love the Lord as long as He keeps doing.  Life is so much more beyond that.

That's kind of the catch, though.  I think.  I look around at all that God is, outside of what He's done for me. I look at creation, at the way He's woven things together.  The rainbow over the lake last week.  The way flowers keep their color even in the dark.  The way an ant carries a crumb twenty times its size.  The way the wind blows, often felt but never seen.  The way saving grace comes at just the right time for the woman in the cancer ward, the man on the streets, the family in the park.  All of these beautiful, wonderful, incredible things that God has done, that God has created that aren't for me - and He makes them feel like they are all for me.  Like if I were the only one here, He would still do it all because these things are for His glory and my pleasure.  Even what He hasn't done specifically for me still feels done specially for me, so I suppose I will always feel a little guilty and a little selfish and a little shallow in my thanks to Him.  Maybe I'm supposed to.

For sure, though, I know I am supposed to give thanks.  My heart is burdened with thanksgiving, and that is no accident; God created such a thing knowing it was a dynamic between He and man.  Knowing we needed a way to be grateful.  Knowing we needed a way to be honoring.  Knowing we needed a way to smother Him with love for the things He has done - specially for us.  Especially for us.

So don't bother with a please, but remember your thank Yous.  And don't feel guilty if, like me, you feel a little guilty.  Don't feel selfish if it feels like you're just thanking Him for the things He does for you.  This is more than just what God does; it is who He is.  For you.  This is all for you.  Be thankful.

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