Living Gratitude

As a writer, I have much to be thankful for this year including a new job as the Editor-in-Chief of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild in Colorado Springs CO. This job combines my two great vocational passions—editing and nurturing writers—and is located in one of the most beautiful areas of the U.S.

But a life overflowing with thankfulness is a fairly new endeavor for me—something I came to only in the last two to three years. I believe God wants us to be content with what He’s given us before opening new doors in our lives.

For years, I was not content. I loved my life. I loved, and still love (only now better I hope), my wife and family. But I always endured an undercurrent of dissatisfaction, letting petty annoyances fueled by ingratitude rob me of joy.

One day, I’d had enough. I determined to be grateful for what He’s given me because it’s all His anyway. My responsibility is to take what God’s given me, mix it with my talents and skills (which He’s also given me) and give Him back more. To live the Parable of the Talents.

With that change, my life became more satisfying. My relationships deeper, richer. My situation didn’t change; I did.

Then without my looking for it, at the point when I was content, God opened a door to a new challenge—the Christian Writers Guild. And with honest regret for what I was leaving behind, I stepped through that door with excitement.

It’s not easy to focus on the good—that’s not the way of this world. Here, we focus on what we don’t have, but feel we’re entitled to.

But I have to remember, I have nothing. My Father has everything. He will supply my needs.

My life’s verse is Romans 12:2. I memorized it in the NIV, but I love how The Message interprets it in context:

Place Your Life Before God
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

“I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.” (Romans 12:1-3)