Monday, June 3, 2013

Gratitude Before and After

When I started taking classes to become a Licensed Unity Teacher, I was ‘forced’ to take biblical studies. I did so unwillingly. Why did I have to study these stories that had nothing to do with me, that happened thousands of years ago, to people on the other side of the world. We started with the Old Testament stories and one thing I noticed was that some of the most amazing and well known stories were about people – just regular people – like me. They didn’t start off wanting to accomplish great tasks or go down in history. Most of them, when they heard the ‘voice’ of God did not say – sure OK God – I’ll get right to it. God actually had to come and yank them by the collar to get their attention. And I think this same thing happens to us too. We too are called – how is God trying to get our attention? It might not be a burning bush - it could be that still small voice. It could be a storm in your life. It could be through serendipitous circumstances that you cannot ignore. But over the years I have learned to listen – to pay attention – to say ‘yes’. Like Noah …… not really sure why ……… I can’t see the whole picture. But the message is unmistakable. Noah is a great example of listening and following the instructions despite criticism by those around him. And because he listened to God we now have this profound wisdom that I would like to share. 10 Lessons from Noah's Ark One: Don't miss the boat. Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat. Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark. Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done. Six: Build your future on high ground. Seven: For safety's sake, travel in pairs. Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. Nine: When you're stressed, float a while. Ten: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting. At the end of all these stories of success and accomplishment there is always great celebration & expression of gratitude. And we all know how important the expression of gratitude is. Giving thanks & expressing gratitude shifts our perspective….. on our lives, on the world, on everything! And then there is the spiritual practice of giving thanks in advance which requires faith. In Hebrews 11:1 we read: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Jesus did not say – thank you for making this bread enough to feed 5,000 people - he just said thank you. Before Jesus went into Lazarus’ tomb he did not say – thank you for bringing Lazarus back to life. He said thank you Father that you have heard me. Are we willing to step out in faith and give thanks for what we have not yet seen? What happens when we do that? Saying thank you takes us out of worry. We cannot say thank you & be anxious at the same time. Giving thanks before we see the gift puts us in a position of receptivity. We are open to the good……..to possibilities.