A few days ago Mark used the illustration of lots of small bullets being fired, the accumulative effect being very powerful and effective. To quote, ‘Lots and lots of little thanksgivings, day by day, are likely to lead to an explosion of grace, an increasingly passionate love for our wonderful Lord Jesus, deeper rest in our Father’s love, and growing confidence in the Holy Spirit in us’.
That got me thinking about the truth that, often, progress in our life is made up of a lot of small steps. I remember as a child visiting the sights in central London and being taken to the Monument, the 202 foot tower that was built to mark the Great Fire of London of 1666. At the time of building it was a very tall building, and obviously had no lift. No way to get to the top other than climbing the 311 steps. For me as a small child this was quite an adventure in itself, counting and climbing all the steps and discovering the view of London from the top.
Living in the age of high speed lifts, we are use to rising to the top of a high rise building in no time at all, but there is still no way of getting to the top of the Monument except rising up step by step. No one says “Well that bottom step is useless, it won’t get me anywhere near the top.” Because everyone knows that stepping onto the bottom step and then the next and then the next is the only way to go. Maybe we could apply this to ourselves as Christians. Perhaps sometimes we want to take the lift, not the steps, in our spiritual life, so we go to a big meeting, or connect with one on youtube, and we feel our spirit lifts immediately, or quite soon. (If we haven’t climbed the steps however, but have metaphorically whizzed to the top in a lift, we may find ourselves coming down again very quickly!)
Let us put this in some kind of context. Some days we may start off the day feeling challenged by the day ahead, or out of sorts with God, others, or even ourselves. On other days we can start well, but there may be setbacks and difficulties arising along the way. Whatever the cause, we can sometimes feel like, either we aren’t doing very well, or that the Lord seems far away, or that the challenges of the day are too much for us. It can feel more like we are at the bottom of the Monument than at the top and looking at the magnificent view; more as if we are under the circumstances rather than riding high as one who Christ ‘always leads in triumph’ and who ‘through us is spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere.’ 2 Corinthians 2:14. AMP.
So what do we do if in our day, like at the Monument, there is no high speed lift to transport us upwards? I think our daily discipline of thanksgiving is the answer and a little like those 311 steps that have to be taken one by one to get us to the top. Thanksgiving, it seems to me is vital to building a healthy spiritual life and a strong connection with our Heavenly Father. I think it can also be our ‘step by step’ movement ‘upwards’ when we are feeling in any way ‘down’. Like the bullets that Mark mentioned, or like the steps of the Monument, giving thanks for a lot of little things is a great way to ‘lift’ our spirit.
At those times of feeling ‘down’ or ‘under the circumstances’ we can find it hard to remember all the good things that the Lord has done for us. Sometimes, even when we do remember something, the enemy will be there whispering, ‘Was that really God? It was just one of those things.’ and lead us into a measure of doubt and unbelief. And this is where we come back to keeping it very simple, and not ‘despising the day of small things’, in the same way that we would in no way despise the bottom step(s) at the Monument if we wanted to get to the top.
This is where our journal can help us. Re reading that list of ‘small things’ that we have written down for which we are thankful (see Blog 356 again), can provide us with the steps that we need to climb back into a place where we can clearly see the view; that is to say a place in the Spirit, where we can gain God’s perspective on our day, our life and our circumstances once again.