Sunday, November 22, 2015

Claiming an Attitude of Gratitude

It was summer and I was delighted to be getting out of the stifling heat where we lived in Raleigh, N.C.   My boys were very young, full of energy and looking forward to spending time with grandparents in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  We loved the cool lake breezes, beach time, biking, walking and the slower pace of life that comes with vacation time as well as small town life.

 My mom had found a child's bike just the right size and it was put to use very quickly.  Early one morning I was awakened by my oldest child, Andy (As an adult he now goes by “Drew”, he would want me to make that clear!) who was probably around the age of 6.  He was standing next to my bed with wild flowers in his hand.  Through my early morning fog, I could see the look of satisfaction on his face as he presented them to me; he couldn’t wait to tell me about his bike ride down to the beach where he discovered the flowers.  GULP!  He was alone…near the water…on a bike!

Back home in Raleigh we lived in a lovely neighborhood but “Andy” had major restrictions where he could ride because busy streets were not far away.  Now we were in a small town, certainly with its own dangers, but there were not so many restrictions on biking routes.

With all the calmness I could muster I told my young son that I truly did appreciate the flowers but he must have an adult with him when he went near the water.  What he said next has stayed with me all these years (he is now in his early 40’s).  His blue eyes danced with joy and he said, “But mommy, I feel so free.”

Freedom is really important to all of us, is it not?  That fresh summer day, my sweet young son reminded me of the joy that came with having freedom to ride a bike, pick flowers and enjoy the lake. 

At this time of year, so close to Thanksgiving, we find ourselves being particularly aware of our blessings, and I have many!  My list includes: my husband, kids, grandchildren, a reliable car, financial resources to pay for needs and pleasures, church family, health, warm comfy home, etc.  And each of these categories could be broken down into more blessings…much like a tree trunk that sprouts many branches that, in turn break off into many smaller twiggy branches.  Freedom is a HUGE blessing! 

There are many who believe we are living in a time when our personal freedoms are being eroded.  I have seen changes and added restrictive laws/rules over my lifetime.  It’s tempting to be fearful, wring our hands and use social media to finger point.  Honestly, I have done all three of those.

But I begin to relax when I get still before the Lord, delve into His Word, and review His promises and direction.  Worry and anxiety are not of the Lord!

In John 8:32 Jesus tells those who believe him, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  How is knowing truth related to freedom?  In Romans, chapters 6 & 8, we find an answer.  Our freedom is freedom from sin because of our faith in Jesus Christ.  I Peter 2:16 tells us, “Live as people who are free,” and then goes on to encourage us to use that freedom to honor God.

What a gift God gave us – a gift no one can take away.  Through the power of God and because of the Holy Spirit Who indwells and empowers me, no matter what is happening around me, I am free to choose joy.  I am free to choose an attitude of gratitude and to live for a greater purpose beyond “self”.

We are living in the “last days” (defined as the period of time between Jesus’ first and second comings).  Maybe we are even in the “last, last” days when Biblical prophecy warns us to expect persecution and limitations on our personal freedoms.

But praise God, because of His Son, Jesus, we (believers) have the most important freedom of all, the freedom to love and serve the Lord wherever He places us.  We are free to choose love and joy and to live with an attitude of gratitude!  That’s my prayer for my loved ones as we come to the table on Thursday.

 

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