Don’t you love it when you are feeling all satisfied with some counsel you just gave your child on a wrong attitude and that satisfaction with your wisdom is wrecked when you suddenly realize that you do the exact same thing you just corrected them for?
That just recently happened with Kalindi. The girls were going to play at a friend’s house and Kalindi asked me what time I would be there to pick them up. I said the time and she immediately made a disapproving noise and started to complain that it wasn’t long enough. I stopped her and talked to her about being happy for the time she could spend with her friend instead of complaining about it not being longer. (I also told her if she didn’t immediately change her attitude that she wouldn’t be going at all and that would be worse than too short a visit. Amazing how that changed her reaction. 🙂 )
There is something that I have asked God for since Kevin and I decided to have children. I wanted MORE children. However, because of fertility issues, we were only blessed with two biological children and despite our best efforts and medical intervention God chose not to bless us with more. It was a very hard time for me. I had the added bonus of having a lot of friends around me who were not having any trouble having as many kids as they wanted. I found myself getting jealous of the babies God was giving them – instead of being happy and content with the children God had given me. I mean, He might not have given me any, right?
I didn’t learn that lesson back then. In fact, I just kind of shoved the thoughts and learned to live with it – I am ashamed to say.
I found myself contemplating that old bad attitude not long after Kalindi and I had our conversation. I realized that there are many areas of my life that I tend to see the glass “half empty” instead of being thankful for what I have been given.
I honestly think that it is a choice to be thankful – and when we go out of our way to speak our thankfulness to the Lord in our prayers and throughout our day, we are reminded of the many blessings God bestows on us – who are worthy for none. I have made this effort off and on, but never made it a daily habit.
One Sunday when I was in charge of the music in the worship service I set up a time of prayer and music and we used scripture to pray at intervals the ACTS method of prayer. I have learned that idea long ago, but in working on that service I realized why taking the effort to go through those steps was so effective.
In adoration, we make time to praise God for His character and works. There are plenty of things that we can come up with for this area and using scripture can help us. In praising God and contemplating His character we are naturally led to consider our own hearts which leads us quite naturally into confession.
After confession, and knowing that our sins are forgiven because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we are led right into thankfulness. What greater gift do we have than forgiveness? Through Jesus’ atonement for our sins we can stand before the Father in prayer and be accepted on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness. What a blessing that is!
Once we express our thankfulness, we can confidently bring our requests before the Father. I have found, though, that when I use this prayer outline, I rarely get to the supplication portion.
And again, something I know and yet do not regularly make a part of my life and practice. Why is that? Because, like a spoiled child, I immediately go to the Lord with my wants and desires. I like to list off the injustices I suffer or the list of demands that I have and perhaps complain about the things I have been asking for and not received. Yikes! When will I learn? When will I grow up?
Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Hebrews 13:5-6 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
I Timothy 6:6-8 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
Philippians 3:7-11 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
It all comes down to perspective, doesn’t it? What do as I see as most valuable in my life? That last verse says it all. I want to say with Paul that I count all things – every thing on this earth – as rubbish in order to gain Christ and to be found in Him. I want to rejoice in knowing that I share in the power of the resurrection. But, it also means accepting with thankfulness and contentment suffering in this life – knowing that it leads to my sanctification and the molding of my character into the image of Christ. And, those two things go together because the power of the resurrection is new life. A new life that is “in Christ” when we surrender ourselves to Him.
Thank you God for everything you bring into my life. Thank you for molding me and using me for your glory and purpose. Give me ears to listen and a heart that desires above all to seek after you in all things.