As I look back over the last few blogs, I am realising afresh that, in many situations where our faith is challenged, so is our relationship with the Lord. Staying in a place of ‘Thanksgiving’ is, at these times, a wonderful way of keeping my heart open to the Lord. It is a way of staying positively connected to Him.
We have, perhaps, all experienced the teenager who goes to their room and shuts the door, effectively breaking off communication with the rest of the family. It’s a way of shutting out those with whom they disagree, and a way of registering that disagreement in a very physical way. It’s also a way of shutting themselves in with their way of seeing things. It’s a way of not having to listen to another point of view with which they don’t agree.
Gratitude, (and I am sure that we wrote of this much earlier in the year), keeps us connected with people in a very positive way. It keeps us open and receptive to them. This is also the case with God, and I believe it is why maintaining a heart of thanksgiving, through all the difficulties and complexities of life, is a profound key to staying connected with Him, particularly when He seems to have a different opinion to me as to what I am needing!
Another reason for retreating to our room when we are teenagers is to nurse our hurt, it’s to stop having to be around those who we feel have hurt us. We can be like that with God too. Sometimes it’s easier to feel a little sorry for ourselves, and lock Him out, than to face ‘full on’ the challenges that life brings our way. Thanksgiving helps me to break through that bit of a sulk in which I want to indulge, when I don’t think God has quite understood how bad things are, or how much I need Him to come to my rescue in some way or other.
Finally we all know that a sign that someone, teenager or otherwise, is not at ease with us, is that they avoid eye contact. This can be because of their own lack of confidence, shame or self-consciousness, or because there is something that you have said or done that displeases them; something that has put up a wall between you and them.
There can also be a lack of eye contact when a child or teenager is forced to say ‘thank you’ for something that they really didn’t want, and for which they really aren’t grateful. A quick cursory ‘thank you’, while looking elsewhere, or while making a quick escape, is clearly not going to build any relationship with anyone. Similarly I was also thinking that, having been on this journey of ‘Thanksgiving’ now for eleven months, it is important that our thanksgiving to the Lord is heartfelt, full faced and with eye contact, not just a cursory mutter, as we slink (metaphorically) off to our room.
Staying in good connection with the Lord is about making that thanksgiving heartfelt. And here I am thinking of the line from a song I have enjoyed recently ’From my heart to the heavens, Jesus be the centre…’ I want my thanksgiving to be heartfelt, and even if I have to start giving thanks, in a particular situation, as a willful choice, I want my words, thoughts and heart to connect with my Heavenly Father, as the Holy Spirit helps me. This, I believe, is when my heart will connect with heaven.
And if we stay in good connection with God we are then positioned to receive all that He is, His love, grace, power, kindness, patience, faithfulness………, and all that He wants to give. It is also more likely that I will gain understanding of His ways, and the wisdom to know what to do. In fact the benefits of staying close are just unending, so the next time we feel like ‘running to our room’ let us turn our face towards heaven, give Him ‘eye contact’, and as the Spirit enables us, give Him ‘by faith’ our heartfelt thanks.