Wednesday, November 17, 2010


"The person with an abiding
spirit of gratitude
is the one who trusts God."
Brennan Manning

That was the theme of a post I began writing ten days ago.

The post I was writing when my sister called to tell me that my dad had fallen and had hurt his hip.

My heart sank. I knew what a fall, a broken hip, and a long hospital stay, could mean to someone my dad's age.

I knew immediately that God was not calling me to write a post about gratitude being expressed in trust. He was calling me to walk in it. He was calling me to express my gratitude to Him, by trusting Him with my dad and whatever the following days would bring.

I would have rather written about trust or talked about trust. It would have been easier.

"But do you not know
, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?" James 2:20

When I was teaching preschool, I loved to prepare my room for the first day of school. I'd spend days moving furniture around to make the most of floor space. I'd make sure that every learning center was just right. The centers would be full of Legos, blocks, new markers, clean dress-up clothes, and cookie cutters for the unopened play-dough. I covered the walls and bulletin boards with bright pictures and learning tools. I worked until I thought it was perfect.

My teacher-friends and I would laugh, as we stood at our doors and admired our creativity and hard work, and say, "Now the kids are going to come and mess it all up!"

I felt the same way when I would take Ethan to the golf course for an early morning tee-time. There was nothing more beautiful to me than the undisturbed fairways. A picture of complete perfection with not a blade of grass out of place.

But then the first group of eager golfers would tee-off and walk right down the middle of the fairways, leaving behind their footprints and divots.

The beach is like that too. Early in the morning, the sand is smooth and undisturbed. The gentle breezes of the night have erased the footprints made by its visitors. That's when it seems the most beautiful.

Yet a classroom without children, a golf course without golfers, and a beach without people is like faith without works. The apparent beauty may seem complete and undisturbed, but it is empty and unfulfilled. The beauty in these scenes only comes when each is filled with those for which it was created.

The squeals and laughter of children in a classroom, or the precious young guys that lug their heavy golf bags up and down the fairways, or the people on the beach lining the shoreline with their chairs and umbrellas are the very things, that instead of taking away the beauty of the undisturbed scene, actually impart real beauty to it.

The "marks" that people leave behind show where beauty and life have crossed paths.

Perhaps God saw my desire and willingness to trust Him as something beautiful, but He also saw it as incomplete. The beauty of trust is complete when it is filled with the life and actions of the ones He created to be in a trusting relationship with Him. It's where the beauty of what He has done for us crosses path with our lives and our choices.

That morning, after my sister's call, I showed my trust by thanking Him for loving my mother and my dad. I thanked Him that He loved me and Jim and Ethan and that I knew He would make a way for us. I reminded Him that we were not perfect. That we were some messed-up children of His.

Then I thanked Him that His love is never defined by anything about us, but that it is always defined by everything about Him.

Fortunately, dad's hip wasn't broken. But knowing that he and my mother would need our help, we packed and headed their way. We are always thankful that Ethan is with us. But traveling any distance, being away from home, and out of our routine and off of our regular schedule present many obstacles to our caring for him and in meeting all of his needs. Trying to balance his needs, in the middle of life's usual interruptions, can seem overwhelming.

I guess trusting God for balance, and for us to be able to meet Ethan's needs, is another way of saying "thank you" once again for the miracle of his life. Fears, doubts, and uncertainties fade away when we remember that the only reason Ethan's alive today is God's amazing grace. Certainly, after performing such a wonderful miracle, He will provide for him in the day-to-day demands of life.

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.
Psalm 34:8

My dad is the perfect picture of gratitude expressed in trust. He has always looked at the good things in his life as undeserved gifts from God. My dad talks about what he has instead of what he's lost. He talks about the good and not the bad. My dad looks toward the future while remembering the faithfulness of God in his past.

He's just thankful.

My dad, during the week we were with him, gave thanks that he wasn't hurt more seriously. He reminded us all that it was God, not fate, that had protected him during the fall. He gave thanks that he was at home, and not in a hospital. That he was surrounded by family, and not strangers. In the middle of his pain, he gave thanks that he could walk, even though it was with a walker. He thanked Jim and me for being there, and for everything we did for him.

My dad didn't talk about the "what-ifs" of the future. He was able to rest as he trusted. He is living his life one day at a time, knowing they are all in the safety of God's hands.

One day, sitting beside his bed, I said, "Daddy, you are 88 years old, you have crummy bones, you fell on your hip, and you didn't break anything."

With tears of gratitude in his eyes, he just shook his head. Faith has never been more alive. More beautiful.

When I was leaving his room he said something about a bank account he was trusting in, and that it was the only one that mattered.

I didn't hear all he said. I didn't have to. I knew what account He was talking about, and what account He was trusting in.

The account my dad is trusting in is the one Jesus established on the cross of Calvary. The account that allows all of us to become children of God. An account mark "PAID" by the One who tells us that He is trustworthy, and that His love for us will last forever.

My dad knows, and I am learning, that because of the price that God paid all of His gifts are undeserved and, regardless of how they are wrapped, they are all good.

"Gratitude arises from the lived perception, evaluation, and acceptance of all life as grace - as an undeserved gift from the Father's hand." Manning


317. A God whose Character, not mine, defines love

318. The grace to make faith alive

319. Parents who know God

320. My dad's example of gratefulness expressed in trust

321. Being a help to my parents

322. A husband that would do anything for my parents

323. Jim and Ethan's safety as they went up and down the stairs

324. A man who loves his dog

325. Getting to spend some special time with this little guy.

326. For my sister and brother-in-law that got my dad to the doctor

327. Being able to make my parents a pound cake and oatmeal cookies

328. Finding God's much-needed encouraging words on a computer screen and being able to pass them along

329. The promise of redemption and knowing that God uses broken people in the process

330. Stopping by for a quick visit on our way home with all the laughter and all the smiles and all the memories

331. Knowing that I could leave my parents because they are in "grace-filled" and "grace-scarred" hands

332. That when walking by faith doesn't look pretty, remembering that God is patient and that He has promised to finish what He began

1 comment:

  1. You so so blessed to have a grateful heart. It puts everything else in it's proper place.