Of course you do!
Today while sprawled on the couch trying to regain some energy after a tough workout, I picked up Choosing Gratitude, by Nancy Leigh Demoss.
And God kicked my butt. Nicely. But unmistakably.
Ms. Demoss recounted a story about a shipwreck on Lake Michigan in September of 1860. Among one of the people who went to the rescue along the shores of Evanston, IL, was a young seminary student named Edward Spencer. For hours he battled the waves, the dangerous debris, and his own exhaustion to swim out and rescue person after person. He saved 17 of the 30 people who were rescued in that spot.
Mr. Spencer was ruined. Nearly paralyzed by and unable to recover from the physical strain of that night, he had to give up his schooling, his career, his dreams of being a pastor.
Years later, when asked by someone what he remembered most vividly about the rescue, he said, ‘Only this: of the seventeen people I saved, not one of them ever thanked me (pg. 47).’
I was floored. The injustice of that ingratitude grated on me.
The injustice of my own ingratitude grated on me even more vividly.
I’m not a grateful person. As much as I rail against entitlement, I tend to lead the charge when it comes to demanding that people do things for me. And when God doesn’t do things in exactly the way I’d like Him to, I sulk and stir up a depression of the soul to protest: “See, God, now look what You did!”
But when I try to be grateful, it’s usually in the “grit my teeth and just do it” kind of way that doesn’t yield very good results. I can stir up a lot of guilt, but guilt is a terrible motivator, as Shaine Claiborne says. It’s true. The guilt eventually settles, and I assume that I’ve somehow worked off my ingratitude and go on my merry, ungrateful way.
There must be a better way.
And this is where the game comes in.
At the end of Ms. Demoss’s book, she includes a 30-day devotional. I’m not going to copy the devotional here, because that’s probably illegal, and I actually encourage you to get the book if you can, because it includes some heavy, possibly life-changing stuff.
But, for the next 30 days, I’m going to post the Scripture reading for that day. I’m also going to write about 5 things for which I am grateful. (No repeats. . .I hope. I might start getting real’ trivial near the end: “I’m grateful that that zit finally went away!” We’ll see).
And I want you, dear readers, to follow along, to read the verses, to make an effort to think of your own five things. I would love it if you were to post them below, tell your friends about this, etc., so we can just have ourselves a little blog party of gratitude (because gratitude begets more gratitude).
I want this to be a time where each of us strives to actually cultivate gratitude within ourselves, rather than just reading a post, thinking, “hey, I should be grateful,” and moving along. It’s easy to think you’ll take time to be impacted by something ‘later.’ But when, I ask you, will ‘later’ arrive? Plus, let’s face it: if you don’t have time to think of 5 things for which you are grateful each day, you’re either too busy or pretty ungrateful. (Lil’ guilt trip there for your viewing pleasure!) How different might the Church look if we were deeply joyful, thankful for our blessings, eager that others might partake!
Obviously the next 30 days of this blog will not be filled with my quick’n’dirty entertainment style of blogging, which means my readership will probably drop sharply. But I so desire your involvement here. I’ve wanted so badly to use my writing and my blog for the Lord. How humbling it is that the most significant work He may do through this little blog comes not from my own hands but straight from the work of someone else. Yet I can say (truthfully) that I’m thankful for this idea, and hopeful that this could be something huge, even if only in my own life.
Please participate in The Gratitude Project. Coming soon to a blog near you!