For Those Who Feel Thankless…

Dont Just Stand There Small

“Practicing gratitude is worship,” Dad said, from five states away while I silently made another wrong turn in my new city. Speaking of frustrating things like driving incompetence, have you ever scrolled through Facebook on a November day and become upset by those grateful people? You know the ones I’m talking about – three things to be thankful for a day, a month-long picture series, #100happydays etc. Sometimes my heart translates them as healthy reminders; but there are days when those grateful words inflame a benign discontent and jealousy in my heart.

Just to be clear, I have heaps and heaps to be thankful for in my life! The Lord has been so incredibly gracious to me, far above and beyond anything I could ever think to ask for. When I stop to reflect, I’m overwhelmed to my core at all that He has done.

But I haven’t ever done a grateful series on my own Facebook. Why not? Well, part of that is a lack of trust that I would be able to follow through. Another part of it is that I know that Facebook can sometimes be very unhelpful to people’s hearts. In the hours of boredom, or the wasteland between studying, Facebook can become a place to compare lives, to see how much we match up to the people we “like:” the people with whom we attended church, grade school, college etc.

Comparison is one of the quickest ways for me to become dissatisfied with where I am.

He is going to grad school. She is so much prettier. They are getting married. She is actually using her music degree right now. Why am I so unproductive? The thoughts can swirl into tornado proportions, threatening to tear up my sense of solid ground with its storm.

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If I don’t take a stand, these winds shift my focus until I forget God’s goodness.

The other day I was studying Exodus 33. In the previous chapter, Moses had just come down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the 10 commandments to find the Israelites worshiping a golden calf. Despite all the consequences and atonement that had to be done, chapter 33 begins with the Lord recounting His promise:

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Depart; go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give it.’” (Exodus 33:1 ESV)

Finally! After generations of promises, generations of death, and slavery, and sin, God gives the green light into the land flowing with milk and honey. But there’s a catch.

“…but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (Exodus 33:3b)

This part kills me. But it makes complete sense: because God is holy, He will not be in communion with sin. And what reasons does God give for not going with the Israelites? Logically speaking, it seems set – God destroys evil, and the Israelites are stubbornly evil, right? Look at how Moses responds.

“‘Now therefore, if I have found favor in Your sight, please show me now Your ways, that I may know You in order to find favor in Your sight. Consider too that this nation is Your people.’

And [God] said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” (Exodus 33: 13-14) 

Did you catch that? What did Moses ask God for? Why? What did he ask God to consider in making His decision?

So, Moses asked God to teach him, so that he could do it right in the future. Moses asked God for a to-do list; and God said,

My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

That’s incredible. When I read that, I thought that would be the end of the conversation. I pictured Moses backing out of the tent saying, ‘Thank you, Lord. Your graciousness abounds.’

“And [Moses] said to [God], ‘If Your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.’” (Exodus 33:15) 

Now I’m trying to figure out what made Moses so bold and demanding towards God. This man who once complained before a bush burning with the presence of God “’Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent…slow of speech and of tongue.’” (Exodus 4:10)

The only thing I can think of is that Moses’ life taught him that God’s presence is worth everything. Worth more than happy and prosperous circumstances.

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Yes, thankfulness is worship – being satisfied in, and dependent upon God’s presence.

Whether you participate in posting gratefulness to Facebook this month or not, I encourage you to get alone with the Lord and reflect, pray, and/or journal some worshipful thanks for His presence.

“Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol Him, all peoples! For great is His steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 117) 

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One Response

11.20.14

Your Comments
Joy,
All I can say is “Amen”and I hope you do not mind me sharing this
With my Bible Study and spiritual group. It will preach!

Thankfull for you and your words.

Your second cousin in Cypress,
Mary

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