Mark and Lisa Scandrette have written a book entitled, “Free: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most.” They provide a profound approach to thinking about the abundant lives that we live and how we manage the gifts and resources that God has provided for us. Thanksgiving is next week and expressing our gratitude and thanks seems to flow freely, but what does gratitude and thanks look like for every other day of the year?
Gratitude flows from a sense of wonder and a bit of magic. Sweet flour covers the ground like dew. Tasty quail settle on a desert plain. You go fishing and find two coins in the mouth of a fish, enough to cover you and your friend’s yearly taxes. If these sound too fantastic, how about this: A seed falls into the dirt and over weeks and months, through sunshine and rain, grows into a carrot or a potato that you put into a tasty pot of stew. Every day is full of little miracles – the many ways our Creator cares for and provides for us.
Mark and Lisa invite us to consider this proposition: you are well cared for by a loving Creator who provides you with everything you need. Do we live in a world of scarcity or abundance? When you woke up this morning, chances are you slept on a comfortable bed. There was breakfast to eat and perhaps a glass of juice or a good cup of coffee or tea to sip. You put on clean clothes. Odds are that you are reasonably safe and that two more meals and a few snacks are still ahead of you today. For most of us, this is the way it has been nearly every day of our lives.
We see evidence of the Creator’s care and provision all around us. We hear the birds singing in the morning. The sun rises, rain falls to water the earth, and year after year plants grow that provide oxygen and food for our bodies – and not just calories but tasty morsels that excite the palate. We are not only provided for but lavished with good gifts to enjoy: companionship, meaningful work, music, the beauty of nature and cultures, the good sensations of movement – walking, running, swimming, dancing, creativity, and a sense of yearning for the divine mystery of life. Life itself is a gift of God.
Appreciate Your Assets of Abundance
Life can seem scarce rather than abundant when we hurry or forget to savor all that we’ve been given. Our wealth is not only individual but encompasses the entire economic system we benefit from, including access to goods and services, education, opportunities and the public aid that come with living in a stable postindustrial economy. The poorest person in your community may be better off materially than the average person in another country. Keeping an awareness of global economics in mind, take a few minutes to consider and rate the provision you’ve been given in the following categories, considering whether you have reason to feel satisfied.
Food: Lacking Adequate Luxurious Satisfaction: Yes/No
Clothing: Lacking Adequate Luxurious Satisfaction: Yes/No
Shelter/Safety: Lacking Adequate Luxurious Satisfaction: Yes/No
Relationships: Lacking Adequate Luxurious Satisfaction: Yes/No
Health Care: Lacking Adequate Luxurious Satisfaction: Yes/No
Transportation: Lacking Adequate Luxurious Satisfaction: Yes/No
Education: Lacking Adequate Luxurious Satisfaction: Yes/No
Recreation/Leisure: Lacking Adequate Luxurious Satisfaction: Yes/No
Celebrate Your Abundance
One of the best ways to practice gratitude and trust is to regularly celebrate the abundance you’ve been given. This week when you celebrate Thanksgiving and have a feast with your family and friends, be sure to celebrate the joy of this moment when you are favored. Take time to savor the meal and tell stories about how good life can be. Then I invite you to find a time to have a feast with the forgotten by making a special effort to share food with someone who is alone or without a home. Be sure to celebrate the joy of this moment when you bestow favor on others.
Keep a Daily Gratitude Log
Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good; God’s love endures forever.
Living gratefully is an important spiritual discipline because it affirms what is evidentially true – that we are cared for by an abundant Provider who delights to give us many good things. In the coming weeks, keep a daily gratitude log. At the beginning or end of each day write down five things you are thankful for. Try not to repeat. If you write each item in sentence form, your list will begin to take the shape of a poem. My list so far this week would be, I am grateful for…
the freshness of every morning
the birth of a new baby
the satisfaction of good and productive work
the joy of life!
Your list could be a random collection of things that move you, or you might pick a theme for each day: food, people, nature. Or you might want to spend time outside looking and listening for signs of God’s abundance. At the end of the week share your poetic list with someone who needs to know of God’s abundance. Happy Thanksgiving!
POJ Associate for Stewardship
*Excerpts from Free: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most by Mark and Lisa Scandrette.