Tuesday, August 30, 2016

in gratitude for the simple things....

A certain subway sandwich chain hands out receipts with a survey website printed on the back. If you participate in the survey, you get a code that will allow you a free cookie. Any cookie of your choice! Ahhhh...who does NOT like free!

I am all about the simple things in life. Here I am, in my early 50's and suddenly, those fancy women's magazine covers just don't entice me anymore. "Flat abs!" one screams out. Another tells me how I can achieve happiness in just four easy steps! Or how I can be a millionaire in six easy weeks. All of the celebrity magazines show supposedly happy people with the flat abs we desire living it up in seaside mansions.....but are those pictures deceiving? Are they who have anything they want at their beck and call really any happier than you or I?

Believe me, in this life, nothing is easy. We live, we laugh, we also cry. We fall down, sometimes not so gracefully. Some stay down, as if protecting themselves from further blows. Others get up, scarred and maybe scared, but go on they must.

Psalm 119:37 ESV 

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Can you see how in the bigger scope of things that vanity and all that goes with it is NOT the secret to being happy? A fancy car, a 2500 square foot house? And those flat abs? It takes more than a 'six pack abdomen' to BE a friend to someone else. Sure, looks usually gain attention, but I have known many "beautiful on the outside" people whose insides really needed work. I have also known folks all throughout my life who, on the outside, many would not have paid them more than scant notice, but who really truly were awesome individuals.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 ESV

Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

How about you? Do you judge a person based on looks? Income? Fancy car? If so, you may have passed up a  chance to notice the ones who live on the margin: the homeless, addicted, people of another race/religion/creed or even thought! Jesus sought out those who lived "on the margin" and was castigated over it many times. That did not stop Him from being the example that we all need to follow.

1 Samuel 16:7 ESV 

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

I don't yearn for luxury homes, vacations or even three hours a day to practice my sit ups. Too much attention paid to myself and my needs takes me away from those who may need my attention more. Phil Collins produced a thoughtful song about people in need who were being ignored. It described homeless people who just wanted someone to hear them, yet everyone chose to walk away. "Another Day in Paradise." If you have the time, give it a listen, it may invoke feelings in you that you haven't realized before.  click here to listen

Romans 12:2 ESV

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
My husband and I have taken on a "small" home improvement project. We are installing a walk-in shower. A tub is no longer safe for me to step in and out of due to my knees being replaced a few years ago. Being without an actual shower these past few days and needing to clean up in a sink instead really humbles me. I think about those who have no homes, no showers, and even places that have no clean running water. I am grateful for the simple things such as having a shower in a home. I am truly blessed. No set of "six pack" abs can gratify me such as the thought that not only am I blessed, but that I must SHARE that blessing with all whom I encounter. All that I have is not mine, but mine to give away with those who may need it more. And in the midst of my prayers of gratitude, I wonder....what if? Why am I in this here and now while another suffers? And again, in gratitude, I give thanks to God once more.

Matthew 16:26 ESV

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?