Today I’ve been meditating on gratitude. A few days ago I was looking at one of the gifts I received for my 30th birthday from a dear friend. She got me this journal that says “Do what makes you sparkle” in response to my statement that birthdays should be “pink and sparkly.” While I was only being half literal, I appreciated the gesture, and it made me smile because she is so precious. I decided that I would use the journal as a gratitude book, that I would date my entries and just list things I’m thankful for. I had a lot to write in it today.
It started with some things Frank said last night at church. I wish I could recap his entire teaching, but he said it all best, so I’ll just leave a link. (Limitless series – Calvary Chapel Chattanooga)
My heart was on fire as he was talking about the limitations of the heart. Specifically he pointed out that God met Joseph in his limitations with Mary. Maybe Joseph thought, “I would forgive a multitude of sins, but Mary being pregnant by someone else is my limit. I can’t get past that.” Frank mentioned that there were probably a lot of husbands and wives who needed to listen and take note. God calls us beyond our own limits. What if we allowed him to expand the boundaries of our hearts in forgiveness? In understanding? In bearing with one anther in love? Joseph surely thought he has reached his limit. He surely thought that he could go no further, but because he trusted God, the limits of his understanding and his heart stretched.
It made me think of the past, of the limits that I reached. “What if’s” ran through my head for a moment. The Holy Spirit quieted my mind with the remembrance that because of Jesus, I did step out beyond what I thought my limits for love and forgiveness were. The night that I had a complete breakdown in my bathroom , when the Lord met me right there on my floor in my bath robe, that was the night that He expanded the boundaries of my heart. After remembering, I understood our Limitless God in a new way last night through Frank’s message. The Lord breaks through our limits when we trust him. He takes us beyond what we think we can endure. He takes us into that place of the heavenly, and we shudder in the presence of his perfect love, grace, and power to command our lives.
Frank also said that sometimes our biggest inconveniences, like Mary for Joseph, turn out to be our biggest blessings. He is absolutely right. It was inconvenient to say the least that my life took a u-turn. It was inconvenient to move to the back side of Signal Mountain up Roberts Mill Road. It was inconvenient to be an adjunct, living primarily off of the generosity of others. It was inconvenient to pick up a second job. A lot of things were inconvenient, but what the enemy meant for my harm, the Lord used for good. Because of that season of my life, I got to experience God in a new way. He expanded my borders of my heart, and I will never be the same.
All of that was on my mind this morning as I streamed the service in my kitchen. Having my morning coffee and listening to the worship and the teaching again strengthened my heart, as it always does. I set out after some reading to write my Christmas cards while I listened. A few days ago, I wrote thank you cards for birthday gifts. I’m not usually good about remembering to do this, but I’m glad I did. You know what’s really good for the heart? Telling people how much they mean to you. As I wrote cards to people who have impacted my life this year, wishing them a Merry Christmas, I began to feel light. Gratitude does that. Being thankful takes me away from myself and allows me to more fully see how God has blessed me through the people he has put into my life. Even when I’m too busy to notice, he still provides. It was nice to take the time to not only notice today but to also say thank you.
I ended the late morning quiet time with a yoga practice centered on gratitude. I sat before God and thought about his goodness. I literally bowed before him, and I moved with the breath that he has given me today. There is so much more to think about. My prayer is that I can use the month of December to continue to be grateful and to meditate on God’s goodness.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18