There once was an avid duck hunter who was looking for a new bird dog.
He looked everywhere for just the right dog. He finally found him.
“This dog is very special,” said the seller. “Watch this”. With that, the man threw a stick in a nearby pond. The dog marched out to retrieve the stick – walking on the water.
Knowing his friends would never believe him, the hunter bought the dog and planned a hunting trip with an old buddy who was, by nature, a cynical, hard to please pessimist.
On the appointed day, the two men hid in a blind until a flock of ducks flew over. They fired and a duck fell in the water. The dog jumped and headed out to retrieve the bird but instead of sinking, he simply walked out on the water and brought the duck to shore.
Nothing more than his paws were wet.
The man’s friend didn’t say a word and acted as if nothing unusual had happened.
On the drive home, the proud owner was curious.
“Did you notice anything in particular about my new dog?” he asked.
“Yep, sure did,” the friend replied. “He can’t swim”.
To cease to be thankful is to put our heart and mind on automatic pilot.
As Robert Louis Stevenson put it, “not to be thankful is to fall asleep in life”.
Our pressures and problems have blocked out our awareness of the mercy, kindness and grace of God in our lives. In place of gratitude comes a sense of entitlement. We presume upon the mercies he gives us every moment of every day. We may even think subconsciously we are owed this; we come to expect it. We are no longer in wonder and awe of the natural world God has created for us.
We are unimpressed with God.
Our focus is on what we need, what we want and what we must do. It is no longer on what God has done for us and what he has given us.
When we stop and think of God’s blessings; when we consider his mercies and his kindness then we begin to more clearly see all he has done and all he is still doing for us.
It’s then that we begin to count our blessings. And then we thank God.
We get re-impressed with God.
Thinking and thanking are the peas and carrots of the Christians life.
Before we can be grateful we must take stock of our lives. Before we can take stock of our lives we must think. And before we can think we must stop and take time to think. We rush through life too quickly to be thankful as we should. Our thinking is too preoccupied with the burdens of the day and the pressures of the week.
We don’t thank because we don’t think to thank.
Thankfulness is a discipline; it is an attitude that must be cultivated. It is a perspective that must become a habit and to become a habit it must be practiced. That requires a conscious effort.
It takes time well spent.
Gratitude does not come naturally, especially in the 21st-century.
Everything around us conspires to make us less than thankful. The things of this world make us anxious, envious and discouraged; they seldom make us thankful. To be truly thankful is to think beyond ourselves and our circumstances; beyond our wants and ambitions.
Sometimes we just make it too hard for God to impress us with his goodness.
This is not God’s fault, who daily blesses us with benefits. His faithfulness is great and his mercies are new every morning. The problem is with us – with a heart that does not feel toward God as it should and a mind that is not focused on God and his many blessings.
We are not observant of God.
We become too distracted by the things, the worries and the concerns of this world and our living in it. We rush about and never notice the sunrise, the sunset and the stars and the moon that God has painted in the sky.
Maybe we spend too much time indoors and not enough outdoors.
We are too easily impacted by fabrications and not enough by the divine created order. We take too much for granted and contemplate too little.
It took time for the apostle Paul to realize that the very “thorn in the flesh” he pleaded with God to remove was in fact a blessing of God’s grace. From God’s point of view it was not a disadvantage but an advantage. It was not a bane, it was a blessing.
It was not a weakness, it was a strength.
Since Paul prayed to God on three separate occasions for this physical restriction to be removed it took Paul time to think about this and to arrive at the same conclusion. It wasn’t automatic or natural (II Corinthians 12:7-10).
This was God’s will and it ended up ultimately strengthening Paul’s faith, his relationship with God and his gratitude for the blessings of God and God’s grace, which Paul discovered was more than sufficient.
It was Paul who wrote that we must not let the world force us into its mold of entitlement and ingratitude. We must break the mold by letting God transform our minds – to think anew. Only then can we see God, this world and ourselves as we ought to see them – through the eyes of faith.
Only then can we be impressed with what should impress us.
And only then can we learn what it means to be truly thankful. Every attitude is a formed and disciplined habit. This includes the attitude of gratitude.
God, help us to cultivate thankfulness in the garden of our souls; in the fields of our heart and mind.
Help us to be impressed with you.
Help us to be in awe.