No. 185. Overflowing with Thanksgiving

Colours of the Rainbow > Thanksgiving > No. 185. Overflowing with Thanksgiving

‘”Further up and further in” cried Jewel and instantly they were off again’. Those of you who have enjoyed the Narnia books of CS Lewis will recognize the cry from the last chapter of ‘The Last Battle’. It seems to me it could echo Paul’s heart as he wrote to his friends in Philippi “ One thing I do; forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:13,14. What has that to do with thanksgiving? Well this week I read Colossians 2:6,7 “So then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, overflowing with thanksgiving.” It seemed to me that as we enter the second half of our year of thanksgiving that the encouragement to overflow in thanksgiving is worth reflecting on. When you run a marathon fatigue can kick in as the race goes on, but could it be that the Lord, as He often does, turns things on their head, and the second half overflows with life even more than the first half? Remember ‘My ways are not your ways’ in Isaiah and ‘The first shall be last and the last first’ in the gospels.

So how can this happen without me feeling I have to push myself in an uncomfortable or driven way? Well the context in Colossians gives me a clue: “just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him”. Could there be echoes of Revelation 2 – returning to our first love? Quite a few people, as new or young Christians, are full of gratitude for Jesus having saved and forgiven them and overflow in it. As we get older, more ‘sophisticated and respectable’, we can still believe the truth but be less excited by it. When was the last time you sang “ I get so excited Lord every time I realise I’m forgiven, I’m forgiven; Jesus Lord you have done it all, You’ve paid the price…Hallelujah Lord my heart just fills with praise..”?

Well brother, someone may say ‘I have moved on to the deeper things of God’. Fine but if you or I are no longer getting so excited that Jesus has done it all, and I am completely forgiven, then I am worried. My feeling is that God’s desire is that the longer you or I are believers the more madly in love with Jesus we are. It’s the opposite of Hollywood and many modern ideas of marriage. It is said ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ Well in that case let’s keep our eyes fastened on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and see what happens! And thanksgiving is one of the best ways to keep your eyes and heart, mind and emotions fixed on Jesus.

Wonderfully it’s a two way process. Isaiah 12: 3,4 tells us ”You will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation. In that day you will say ‘Give thanks to the Lord….’” Springs feed rivers. This isn’t about beating yourself up saying ‘I must be more thankful’, this is about soaking yourself in the Lord, His word, His promises, His goodness, what He has done, testimonies, answered prayers, worship and more. As we do, the water of life and gratitude will spring up and flow more and more strongly and overflow. And it can be from ‘the sublime to the ridiculous’ as it were. From thanksgiving for the lovely juicy grapefruit I enjoyed for breakfast, to recovering from a nasty fever, to having all my sins forgiven, it all increases the flow to an overflowing level.

Let’s settle one thing, overflowing with thanksgiving doesn’t have to be noisy. It is not an extraverts’ charter that introverts have to squeeze themselves into! However the bible is clear that in many cases it can and will be noisy and active “walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:8) “Shout for joy Oh daughter of Zion” (Zephaniah 3:14). However if you have watched the news at flooding times you will know that the river Severn can radically overflow Bewdley, Worcester and Tewksbury very quietly but with much force from ‘within’. “Out of his/her innermost being will flow rivers of living water”, John 7:38. So however you express it let’s buy in to God’s heart for a strong flow that overflows. Overflow can be an ‘explosive’ burst and it can be a strong, deepening, persisting flow.

We have young grandchildren. Sometimes when someone gives them something their mother may say to them “say thank you”. That’s fine and good. But I tell you the sight of my 4 year old grandson opening the lego engine he had longed for, and his spontaneous, almost ecstatic, joy and gratitude was truly marvelous to watch and feel. Sometimes I may need to remind myself to thank the Lord, that’s good, we are human. Sometimes I may say thank you and move quickly on, that’s ok too, life is to be lived, God knows our heart, but think how the Lord will feel as we overflow with thanksgiving and gratitude.

Finally, ‘habits’ can get a bad name, but good ones (like brushing your teeth) can do wonders for your health. The more deeply thanksgiving is embedded in the flow of my life and overflows, the more it will become second nature and a good habit. It will be of great benefit to me, and to those around me who will get wet in the overflow. But primarily and most importantly it will greatly bless the Lord Jesus, who along with the Father and the Spirit deserve all the genuine gratitude, thanksgiving and love of my heart and life.


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