Out on a walk one day a few years back, I noticed a cluster of people on the sidewalk about a block from home. I knew the one couple, so I stopped to chat.
As the minutes ticked by, I wondered if there might be an opportunity to talk about the Lord. After all, I’ve spent decades in church being constantly challenged to share the good news about Jesus.
You know, that subtle (or not so subtle) pressure to lead people to Christ.
Don’t get me wrong; I want people to receive the love of God and abundant life. Still, the temptation to count evangelistic trophies is not healthy.
Anyway, I’m in this conversation with my sweet elderly neighbors and their friends, trying to figure out how to steer things to God-talk, and the moment just never comes.
The conversation is fun, though, and it’s just the lift I need at the time.
As I walk away, the Holy Spirit is like,
Do you get it? I didn’t bring you into the conversation to convert them. I just wanted you to relax and enjoy these folks the way I do.
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
Wait, what? I don’t have to constantly evangelize??
Sometimes being mission-minded is too much of a good thing. We demonstrate zeal for God, yet fail to enjoy his blessings (or just be one to others).
What God wanted me to experience in that simple, enjoyable chat was joy, rest and refreshment—and such gifts lead to gratitude.
Too often, I’m like the Pharisee thanking God for my own awesomeness (or I’m at the bottom of the cycle, kicking myself for failures).
God isn’t interested in my performance.
He just loves me. He loves you, regardless of your performance.
This simple, powerful truth is critical for us to remember during this year of stress, anxiety and weirdness.
The world has had the rug pulled out from underneath it, and we are all tumbling.
How to cope?
One doable, effective way is to deliberately count our blessings every day. Blessings like a friendly chat on the sidewalk. A glorious sunset. A delicious meal.
A lovely moment with a grandchild, even if it’s on Skype or Facetime.
The simple smile and wave of a passerby means more to me in 2020 than it ever has before. (You, too?)
These are our blessings, and they are real. To be healthy, we need to recognize such gifts and give thanks to our good Father for them.
I don’t know about you, but often times, my coping strategy is turning to social media for a little serotonin boost.
Unfortunately, that boost isn’t worth the opportunity cost, because once the mask Nazis on Twitter (both pro and con) are done beating me up, I feel worse than before.
Not to mention all the division and strife over the election and other national issues. Plus arguing over theology.
No, social media won’t solve my need for connection or for the simple joys in life. A better plan is to look for the gifts which God offers me every day.
I need eyes to see, so I can develop a grateful heart.
Here is my prayer for Thanksgiving this year:
Father, would you open our eyes to see your beautiful, everyday blessings? Would you help us stop striving and/or escaping and learn to receive and give thanks instead? Even if we can’t gather with all our loved ones, let this Thanksgiving be an especially meaningful one as we truly, deeply celebrate all you have done for us. Let our gratitude rise as a praise offering to you, our most worthy Lord and Savior. Amen.