I remember when I was ten years old I asked God to help me to always value truth. I don't remember what prompted that prayer from me at such a young age, but it was a request that was wise beyond my years. As a result I have been continually thankful for God's mercy and grace towards me, and I have made it a point throughout the years since to acknowledge Him as Lord of every part of my life.
I love the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays because they encourage me to focus on giving thanks to and acknowledging God. I eagerly engage in all of the festivities that accompany these two times of celebration. I enjoy being with my family, eating holiday food, playing games, shopping and gift giving, and the center of it all, for me, is Jesus. In the midst the hustle and bustle my thoughts are ever conscious of Him. I see clearly how different my life could be, and I spend my time purposely thinking about Him and his blessings towards me.
During these holidays this year, while considering God and His goodness, I've noticed how the struggles, changes and disappointments I've experienced over the past several years have tried to take their toll on me. And it's very clear to me that my thankfulness to and acknowledgement of God through my dark days are what have strengthened my faith and kept me connected to Him. Understanding this has made me even more appreciative of Him.
I've noticed, if I'm not careful, how easy it is to get sidetracked by and caught up in negative circumstances when they seem to relentlessly engulf me. And when this happens, I can see how easy it is to forget to acknowledge God and then become unthankful when in the middle of dark seasons. Whenever I'm tempted this way, however, I remember my childhood prayer and ask God to help me again.
Paul said in Romans 1:21, "Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused" (NLT).
Paul's words remind me of why it's important to protect my thankfulness and why I need to make sure I purposely acknowledge God's Lordship of my life. This is especially true when I'm struggling because struggle tempts my attention away from God. Because of this I find myself repeating often the same prayer I prayed as a child. I don't want my mind to become darkened and confused, and I don't want to ever lose sight of who God is or who I am because of Him. I want to always value truth.
For me, it's fitting to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas back to back. The first encourages me to set aside time to say thank you, and the second encourages me to set aside time to recognize why I'm thankful. It also seems fitting to celebrate the new year following this time of giving thanks and celebrating Jesus' birth. In the middle of acknowledging God and expressing my gratitude towards Him I feel nostalgic about how He has made His presence known to me over this past year. He has been faithful, so I feel secure in knowing He'll remain near to me. Though for most of my life I have purposed to stay thankful and ever aware of Him, I feel inclined to recommit to that resolve. It's an old but new resolution. For the next year and beyond, with His help, I intend to be content in all of my circumstances, I intend to maintain my heart of thankfulness towards Him, and I intend to allow Him to continue to be the Lord of my life.