Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rain on Me!

In the middle of the night I awaken to a strange sound. In my sleep-fogged brain I struggle to identify the source of this soft sound. Plop…plop, plop, plop…plop. As my sleepy fuzziness clears, I realize I’m hearing raindrops hitting the roof. In an area that has suffered extreme drought for several years, this is an unusual sound.

From the warmth of my blanket-laden bed I travel to the dried land. Yards criss-crossed with cracks, lawns filled with brown, not green grass. Fields with stunted crops starved for moisture. Plop, plop. In my mind’s eye I see that thirsty land drinking each tiny droplet of life-giving moisture. Deep into the earth the moisture soaks, traveling to roots below the surface, reaching for water.

Only water can restore life to lawns gone dormant. Only water can change sickly-looking, yellowish green winter wheat into vibrant forest green. In my cozy bed I smile, imagining how the drops are slowly changing the landscape and allowing new plant life to flourish. Snuggling deep into my blankets, I drift back into a deep, restful sleep.

Just as the land cracks and crops wither in a drought, so our souls suffer from spiritual drought. Too often, when our souls are parched, we look for a flood; we look for a mountaintop experience to quench our souls’ thirst. But it doesn’t take a flood. It doesn’t take a mountaintop experience. The drought is broken one little droplet at a time.

Father God, let my soul be open to receive each tiny drop of spiritual moisture You send. Send Your life-giving rain into my heart, drop by drop.

John 7:38 “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

An Attitude of Gratitude

Our pastor recently made an interesting suggestion: keep a jar in a visible place in your house. Each day, write something you are grateful for on a little scrap of paper and place it in the jar. At the end of the year, open the jar, read, and remember all those occasions you had to be grateful.

Because I thought this was such a good idea, I decided it would be an excellent 2013 project. So, this morning, the first day of 2013, I retrieved a Mason jar from a shelf in the basement storage room. I set it in the kitchen next to the refrigerator where I’d be sure to see it and remember to put in my first gratitude paper.
In the back of my mind I thought about this all day. As I went about my daily activities I thought about what I was grateful for and what I’d write on my slip of paper. After a while I realized that just considering what to put in my gratitude jar changed my attitude. My thoughts focused on what was good in my life and why I should be grateful for it. This left no room for negative thoughts.

Hopefully, I can put a slip of paper into the gratitude jar every day, without forgetting a single day. I’m curious to see how this action will affect my overall attitude. How will I act on those days when I’m sick or something tragic happens to me, a family member, or a friend? Will I be able to see the blessings in the difficult times and still find reasons to be grateful? If I place something in the gratitude jar every day, I’m certain this will have a positive influence on my life.

Isn’t the gratitude jar just a modern way of helping people to focus on Biblical principals? In the middle of intense suffering and persecution, Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” If Paul could speak this way during such difficult times, surely I can find at least one thing to be grateful for every day for the next 365 days. Daily, I can find a reason to rejoice! Won’t you join me?

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”