By Chris Bates
Do You Feel It?
The early December snow really blew our minds. We were amazed at how deep it was so quickly, and even how light and soft it was for making snowballs and snowmen. I sat with a cup of coffee and watched as the sun came up and was blown away by the beauty. I’ve been in the mountains many, many times, but it makes it more surprising and marvelous when it falls that deeply on our southern landscape. It made me pause, appreciate the splendor of it, and just take it in. I was grateful for all that it gave us for a brief few hours.
Gratitude is a big deal. It sets the framework for taking joy in God’s grace, having positive attitudes, our relationships, our internal drive and so much more. We easily take much for granted. We try to teach our children to be appreciative, but maybe don’t go as far as teaching true gratitude. As adults, we get bogged down in daily stressful challenges, as well as big life ones, and quickly detach from absorbing the grace we are given. That lack of gratitude makes us miss out on much and affects our spiritual, mental and even physical health.
Fear often drives away gratitude, in my experience. It is so easy to forget that God always, always provides what I need, even when it isn’t what I want. When I look back at my most challenging seasons of life—relational, spiritual, financial, and otherwise—I can realize in retrospect that He always provides. I also can look right over my high points in each of those areas. We are freely given salvation, which should make life’s challenges seem minuscule. That is truly the ultimate gift, given in the form of God’s own son, and our grateful spirit should be fearless as a result.
Gratitude is an action; it is not just a sentiment. A mentor of mine once told me that to be sincere about gratitude, “You do it, then you feel it.” Our YBL Jackson men’s Bible study group recently led a Christmas service project. I can tell you absolutely that when it was completed and we had done the work, the feelings of connectivity with my fellow man and sense of gratitude for my own life were almost overwhelming.
How do we do carry out gratitude? We do that with active steps and choices in the everyday of our lives. Think of it this way: the Prayer of Saint Francis tells us to love where there is hatred, pardon where there is injury, console rather than seeking to be consoled. It asks our Divine Master to grant that we can do these things. Doing them boils down to opportunities for selfless service to those immediately around us as we go through our day. It is hard to be selfish and ungrateful if we are too busy helping others or making a quick list of our blessings before we start our day.
Paul tells us more about how to be grateful in Colossians 3:16-17 when he instructs us to, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Can you let it shift how you see things around you? Hopefully, it will not take a totally unexpected snowfall, because they do not come often. Let us consciously decide to not only feel the gratitude that changes us for the better and lets us glorify Him, but to also put it into action in this new year.
Chris is President & Founder of Agora Company, a marketing, website, and advertising company based in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraCompany.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.