Thanks-living

Years ago, the story goes, an admiral was speaking to a Navy Officer’s Wives Club. Before he began, he asked the wives to line up in order of rank. They dutifully complied without a word being said. He then lectured them that they didn’t have rank, their spouses did.

The wives smiled politely, but they knew better.

When we enter into a new situation, we instinctively size up where we fit in. Yet when Jesus left heaven to enter into his creation, he always took the bottom position. And at his last meal before his betrayal, he knelt to wash his disciples’ feet.

And he told us to do the same.

We’ve been studying Ann Voskamp’s book, 1000 Gifts, about her personal journey from anxiety to joy. Her journey meant practicing giving thanks in all situations, even when it was hard.

The practice transformed her. It didn’t change her situation; it changed her.

And the transformation was ongoing. There was always another, deeper layer to a life of thanksgiving.

Naming blessings, and giving thanks for them, led her to live the blessings.

Voskamp says, “At the last, this is what will determine a fulfilling, meaningful life, a life…every one of us longs to live: gratitude for the blessings that expresses itself by becoming the blessing.”

It’s not just the Navy. Every day, someone or something reminds us where we stand in some pecking order.

But when we get down on our knees to serve Christ by serving others, when we empty ourselves of us, that’s when Christ fills us with Him.

And with Him comes joy.

Spitting Seeds

One of my wife’s favorite memories is of the evening she spent eating watermelon and spitting seeds off our front porch with our two boys. That was 28 years ago, when the boys were 7 and 9.

Our lives in the Air Force were nomadic, moving to the next assignment every couple years as I moved up the career ladder. When you move that often, you’re always in a hurry. You only have so much time to make your mark before you move again. We did our best to “make the most” of each new assignment and turned each move into a travel adventure.

So why would eating watermelon make the list of life memories?

Because every now and then you slow down long enough to take in the miracles in a moment.

There are the miracles of things like light and air and gravity. There’s the way the light reflects off things and enters the eye, which signals the brain, which makes sense of it all. The miracle of taste.

Seed spitting presupposes photosynthesis, the miracle of botanical growth, to say nothing of the miracles of farming, food distribution, and supermarkets.

And who can fathom the miracle of a mother’s love, and two rambunctious boys who began as tiny eggs in their mother’s womb?

And how is it they love each other?

Why does something so “simple” give so much joy?

What, after all, is more miraculous than these things that we call “ordinary?” OK, some things may be more spectacular—a lightning strike, a mountain vista—but more miraculous?

When asked by Moses to state his name for the record, God answered, “I am.” Not, “I will be.”

“I am.”

God is in every moment.

Ann Voskamp, in her book 1000 Gifts, asks, “In Christ, don’t we have everlasting existence?” 

Shouldn’t we live like we actually believe it?

If we’re immortal, and we are, what are we rushing for?