For a month now, I have attempted to find the words to express one of the first beautiful lessons encountered during my yearlong journey to memorize Colossians. This post sort-of feels out of order, as it represents a "Part 3" to that thought. I will address what feel to me like Parts 1 and 2 later; but this thought stands alone and fits the theme of this week's chapter of God in the Yard: Gratitude.
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way:
Bearing fruit in every good work, growing in knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9-12 (Emphasis mine)
The latter part of this passage outlines four ways we can "live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way." Notice the fourth way involves gratitude: gratitude that as Christ followers, we have been promised a share in the eternal kingdom of light.
The promise of eternal life inspires gratitude indeed; perhaps we demonstrate that gratitude by our appreciation for the (very) many smaller gifts we already receive in the now.
I think of myself as living in this kind of gratitude. I try to appreciate the immense gift I have received, of a lifetime of love. My parents gave me their best, with God's help. My husband dotes on me. I feel loved and supported by friends in at least five (perhaps twenty-five) states. I have been entrusted with three small lives to shape and train, and they all love me. My life overflows with blessing.
A photo I took years ago, representing an image described in the book:
a plant growing out of a stone.
She called her mental image, "Impossible hope and God's generosity." L.L. Barkat
In Chapter Five: Sky, L.L. Barkat discusses the open spaces left in the roof of historic architecture such as the Parthenon, to allow interaction between humans and the divine. Whether conscious or not, deistic or not, humans tend to refer to the sky as an authority figure.
Interaction goes both ways: it allows the divine to reach down to touch the mundane; and it also allows the mundane to reach up to touch the divine. The author further suggests the open space allows the divine access to our moments of worship.
I think of myself as a grateful person, especially to the divine. Yet for some reason I have historically resisted ever listing my reasons for gratitude. After reading about open spaces it strikes me that perhaps I fear the intensity of the divine.
Perhaps I view God as authoritarian, like the sky, so I resist opening a window onto something stern and harsh. During my personal worship time, what if I left an open space between me and the vast sky; and what if the object of my worship were to actually draw near to hear my gratitude confessions, and look me in the eye, and smile? Sometimes I feel safer when I keep the roof closed, try to have a good attitude, and just send nonverbal messages.
But I have no reason to see God that way. I have experienced God as nothing but good. Maybe I can acknowledge that God is worthy of my respect and caution, while also understanding him as a father who wants to give good gifts to his child.
Gratitude is a critical element of a life "worthy of the Lord." I bet this is because the Lord desires to hear from me directly, in words just as much as in my attitude. Perhaps if I were to risk the effort to put my gratitudes into words, to risk opening a hole in the roof of my worship space, to risk connecting with the one who has "qualified me to share in the inheritance of God's holy people": perhaps this would please the Lord.
I bet it won't even be scary.
1. The hope of salvation.
2. Being treasured by my beloved.
3. My vibrant, supportive church community.
4. My kitty, who sometimes also serves as my early-morning conscience, waking me in time to meet with the Lord.
5. The steamy smell of fresh-turned earth in the afternoon sun.
6. Living in "such as time as this": in a wealthy nation, with access to so many resources.
7. My babydoll, Lulu.
8. Neighbors who hand down clothes and share other goodies.
9. My first ever strawberry plants!
10. A sense of coming into "my time."
Taking this step has also inspired me to join the community celebrating "1000 Gifts" and beyond. My Colossians memory journey includes Ann and hundreds of her readers, now I also begin the gratitude count.