Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. – Psalm 100:4 (NIV)
When was the last time you bounded out of bed on a Sunday just itching to worship God?
As I talked with other clergy and the Clergy Conference in October, we all noted one thing in common with our varied churches: worship attendance had fallen off. Giving and people doing church work had not dropped off, just worship attendance. Has worship become just "one more thing" to do on "my day off?" I don't know but it may be true.
The Psalmist has a heart for God. Everything else not only came second. It also was taken care of if the #1 priority – God – was attended to. How do we know that? Unbounded thanks. Despite our recent Thanksgiving holiday, we tend to dwell on thanks only momentarily. The national sports of complaining (blaming is a variant) and entitlement take over all too quickly.
Two transforming stories of thanks come to mind for me. The first came while I was in seminary. An African friend challenged (I actually think he rebuked) me to uncover my blindness to all that was good around me, things he would never see once back home, that I take for granted. The second was a story related to me by a peer about thanking God in the midst of a horrific car accident for all the things that still worked and were not broken in her life. I would have been bitching up a storm, throwing a pity party and screaming, "why me." I felt small because I was small. I have a long way to go but go I will.
Lord, give me the courage to pause and thank you today and, maybe,
again this Sunday – your day.