Tie a Bow On It

Gratitude awakens us to God's hidden gifts all around us

I’m starting to think we’re the last family who gives thanks before meals anymore. Hopefully, we’re not the only ones left.

We’ve got two little adopted girls we’re raising, and we want them to grow up with the concept that everything we have comes from God. Nothing is “a given”, take nothing good for granted. Everything is a gift.

Hopefully, they’ll grow up thankful for what they have, and not hateful for what they don’t have.

The younger generation has unfortunately been stuck with the label of “slackers”. I think they are just the easiest ones to pick on, with jokes about “living in their parent’s basements” and working 20 tough hours a week at Starbucks.

But watch what happens next time the light changes downtown and you don’t immediately step on the gas. Most often, it’s my generation, with AARP cards in their wallets, who start sitting on their horns impatiently.

I suppose we do have more reason to rush, since our mortality “expiration dates” are approaching sooner.

I’ll admit those Europeans in line at Starbucks get on my nerves. Who knew they’d use the menu as their own personal Rosetta Stone to learn English while I stand behind them!

But what’s the big deal about those extra 20 seconds I have to wait? And why does my blood pressure rise over something so trivial?

It’s because I lack a spirit of gratitude. Many of us think we’re entitled to, well, everything!  And we’ll get it when we want it, the way we want it, or we will go off on you for getting in our way.

Our problem is one of focus. When you focus on where you’re going and what you want, you live unsatisfied. You’re never living “in the moment”, but instead “in hopes of something better”.

That lifestyle is the mindset of a spoiled rotten child…only for me, it’s in the body of a 50+ year old man. Which is not quite so cute.

We understand God’s dealings with us best when we remember He’s said to think of Him as a Father. So if I buy a brand new iPhone 7 for my teenage son, I’m blessing him out of love. However, if he then gets in an argument and angrily shatters the phone against a wall, he’s taken a gesture of love and sacrifice and treated it disrespectfully.

That’s what we do every day when we ignore the simple things of life and whine to God about the few things we still lack.

Tell me, if you were me, would you then go out and buy him a replacement iPhone 7, just like the one he destroyed? I doubt it. Instead, you’d pull an old phone out of a drawer, get his service transferred, and tell him to deal with it until he could buy his own phone. Right?

You’d do that to teach him the value of the gifts you’ve given him and to make him a better person. And that’s just how your Heavenly Father reacts when you ignore the wonder and beauty each day holds and smash it ungratefully against the wall of unreasonable expectations.

Thankfully, we have a holiday every year to remind us to be grateful. Worship also does that, helping us focus on eternal things that never wear out instead of temporal things that always do.

Each day this month, I’ve decided to do a little mental exercise. Whenever I notice something good God’s done for me, the many undeserved blessings He hides in my day the way a father hides Easter eggs, I’ve decided to mentally “tie a bow on it”.

Why? Because none of those blessings are deserved, and I’m truly not entitled to a thing. So each family member, each paycheck, each sunrise and sunset are gifts deserving of holiday wrapping.

By noticing His goodness, I give God the same pleasure I get out of watching Beauty and The Beast with my little girls. No, I don’t really care to see the movie again for the fortieth time. But the joy of watching their eyes light up makes me only want to bless them more.

This Thanksgiving, stop focusing on the delays and what’s missing. Instead, focus on the hidden treasures your Father’s left all through your day. And when you see one, “tie a bow” on it…

Because it’s a gift.

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