Giving thanks to the Lord is far too often just a religious activity that we perform without really giving ourselves to it. It was only after meeting a couple of men who used an entirely different vocabulary and style when ‘giving thanks’ that my eyes were opened to new ways of expressing thankfulness to the Lord.
Their vocabulary was different because it was so down-to-earth, as far away from any religious jargon as it’s possible to be. It was just as if they were saying thank you to a neighbour for helping them when the car had broken down. The Lord was so real to them.
One of them was a worker in a paper mill. His education was very rudimentary, his life had been ravaged by drinking, and it was only as a middle aged man he’d found the Lord. His theological understanding was quite limited, but he knew the Lord! God was as real to him as his work mates in the mill, and when he talked to God he used the same language he used to talk to them. He would stand up in church and say “Jesus, you did it again! Good work, Jesus! I like that, that´s really like you!”
This lifestyle brought him peace and joy, and I’m sure the angels in heaven were really rejoicing every time this man opened his mouth! He certainly knew how to give thanks to the Lord! And he meant every word he said! He recognised what Jesus did in the minute details of life, and said thank you. And the more he thanked the Lord, the more the Lord seemed to do for him! He was so natural, because he’d never learned any other way of doing it. I, and probably many with me who have grown up in church, would struggle to be so natural, because we’ve learned so many other ways that are more ‘churchy’.
Giving thanks to the Lord isn’t a religious duty; it’s a natural reaction of our heart when we recognise what Jesus is doing. If I have a relationship with Jesus that is marked by distance and ceremony, thanksgiving will never come naturally. If, on the other hand, I’m conscious of His presence with me all the time, at home, at work, in school and anywhere else, thanksgiving will be my natural lifestyle.
When I give thanks it’s pleasing to the Lord, but it also does something to me. As I recognise the Lord, and His goodness, and ascribe to Him the honour and the place that really is His, my life comes under His authority and protection. My life comes into the order described in Psalm 91, one of blessing.
Day by day I’m trying to learn the lesson God is teaching me from this brother, and surprisingly I find it harder to be natural with the Lord, than to be religious!
I pray that this year we’ll discover what God’s doing for us in our daily walk and it will cause us to thank Him more, in a simple, natural way! I pray it will then cause our eyes to be opened even more to His blessings great and small, and our hearts will begin to overflow!