“The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever.” Psalm 121:8
“…..provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” Luke 12:33
How do I develop a grateful heart? My prayers are full of requests not thanks. For example: A beautiful sunrise should tug words of praise, but my prayer sounds something like: “Wow God, this is beautiful. Thanks. Bless this day to your glory.” You see, I always seem to end my prayers with a request.
For years I’ve pondered this lack of gratefulness in my life. Then I was given a wonderful lesson which I don’t want to forget, so I’m writing to keep it fresh and hopefully develop a new habit of grateful praise.
God’s lesson was simple and powerful. My last trip to Portland, I rode the Greyhound bus so Elizabeth and Claire could bring me home and stay for a few days. I arrived at the Portland station, but my suitcase did not. It went into the storage area under the bus in Baker City, but as I stood on the walkway in Portland, my suitcase didn’t roll out of the hole with the other bags. Since an elderly woman sat next to me on the bus, we were the last people to descend down the bus steps. I wondered if someone took my case accidentally. Then, I assumed a homeless person (which there are many close to the Portland Bus Station) simply walked up and took what wasn’t theirs. Why is blame one of my first steps to a problem?
By the time I got into Elizabeth’s car, I had a headache and couldn’t pray. I didn’t want to ask God for a miraculous return of my suitcase and be disappointed when God said no. Why did I think God would say no? I want to live stouthearted in a “God’s will be done” attitude, but usually I wallow in self pity and pout. In the past, when God answers a prayer with no, my trust in God being loving is tested. I didn’t want to be tested, so I didn’t pray. Instead, I was thinking about the items inside the bag and how to replace them. I was thinking about Claire’s birthday book where Pete the Cat says: “Stuff will come and stuff will go. But do we cry? Goodness, No! We keep on singing. Buttons come and buttons go.”
Later that evening, I got a phone call from a gentleman in Seattle and he had my suitcase. It took Greyhound 24 hours to move my bag from Seattle to Portland, but nothing was taken. During the 24 hours of waiting, I became acutely aware of the many times normal events could turn into disasters. It was as if God was showing me his protection. I began earnestly thanking Him that my slip of feet didn’t end in a broken hip fall, that Clay’s car door broke in his driveway and not in Bi-Mart’s parking lot, that the soup I made was tasty and didn’t burn. Anything can have disastrous results. Since Jesus is our all in all and “in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17), my normal safe life is because of His protection. I need to view what could happen and be extraordinarily grateful that God protected me from the disaster.
This is the lesson. This can jump start my gratitude attitude. I need to notice the normal boring expected experiences as blessings. Am I worthy of those blessings? Goodness, No! I need to keep on singing of how God’s blessings flow.
Lord, I thank you for your protection. Thank you for returning my suitcase even when I couldn’t trust that you would. Thank you for shepherding my days with your comforting rod and staff. Thank you for green pastures and still waters. Thank you for pursuing me with goodness and mercy. Thank you Lord, thank you.