A Picture of Thankfulness '21
Glory Over the Valley
As you may remember, last year my picture of thankfulness was my back porch.
It was nothin’ fancy, but it stood out as the summation of my gratitude for the year. Looking back on it, it's because it was a place of humility and rest.
And you know, I think humility and rest are the doorposts for gratitude. Said another way, I believe we must be humble and also be away from the busyness - even if the margin we find is brief - in order for our souls to enter into thanksgiving.
Pride says we can do it on our own. Humility says we are not able but God is. A proud heart has trouble being a thankful heart.
Busyness is the enemy of intimacy. It's true in our relationships and also in our relationship with God. When we step away from the distractions, we become present with Him. As we become present with Him, we see how He is with us, and soon, praise and gratitude fill our hearts and minds.
Indeed, humility and rest are the doorposts for gratitude.
It was true with my back porch and it stands true again this year.
In full transparency, when I wrote about my back porch, I had no intention of sharing another picture of thankfulness the next year.
...Until, I was looking through the pictures on my phone and came across this one.
And I realized, this is my picture of thankfulness this year.
You see, I took this picture while I was on a sunrise hike at The Oaks, located in a beautiful valley in Southern California. Having seen the photos a friend had taken the morning before, I was eager to see this for myself.
In her photo, the fog rested heavily over the valley. It was powerful and moving - largely from reflection of the night before when our friend, Bob, had shared how excited he was for us to be there and he believed the angels were hanging over the rails in heaven cheering us on as we spent the weekend intentionally focused, writing down what God would lay on our hearts.
The clouds seemed to be a reminder of this. God's presence was resting on this place this weekend. There was no doubt. We could feel it all around. It was tangible.
Still operating on central time zone, I naturally woke early and put on some joggers and a pull-over. I laced up my tennis shoes, hoping to go snag a picture of the foggy valley for myself so I could always remember this experience and have a visual of God's presence resting on this enormous leap of faith that is this writing journey.
Within a short time, I made it to the top. The colors of the sunrise painted the sky in pastels, yet I was disappointed.
There was no fog. It was clear.
I stood there, soaking in the beauty of the valley before me and silently thanking God for how He had led me to The Oaks this weekend in particular.
This weekend had special meaning for me - meaning shared, at the time, only between me and God. It marked one year to the day of writing for me. Exactly a year before, this journey began when I grabbed a plain, white piece of paper and wrote down a prayer. It was a prayer I didn't feel like writing. I didn't think I'd have anything to say.
But, I grabbed a pen, and His Spirit joined me and the words came.
Staring over this valley, I thought back to that plain piece of paper and how God knew this moment and the friendships here at The Oaks had been planned for me back when I wrote down that prayer a year before. He had a purpose for me in that prayer and the 40 days that followed.
As I looked over the valley, the sun began to rise.
The brightness of the sun's rays were brighter than I have ever seen. Tears filled my eyes as I remembered how Scripture tells of the glory of the Lord shining like the sun.
...So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun... - Isaiah 59:19
I remembered how God met me in my hour of loss and turned what could have been a time of hopelessness into a year of His faithfulness. And through it, He molded my heart and led me to obedience so I could share of His great faithfulness and love in my life - all for His glory.
Reflecting on how this pivotal journey in my life started with 40 days of prayer and seeing the sun in all its splendor, I said, "God, I believe You will do it again" and committed my next 40 days to prayer again. I didn't know what God had in store, but I knew enriched intimacy would be found in my time with Him.
And was it ever! The next 40 days, God taught me day by day and led me to write another book. It felt like heaven pressed "Download" and poured truth into me and opened my eyes to more.
I don't know if 40 days of prayer will always lead to a book for me, but I do know it will change your life. If you've never tried it, you should.
Think about what distractions reach for your attention and commit to spending time in prayer rather than immersing yourself in that/those activities for 40 days.
This picture of the sun shining so brightly on this hike is my picture of thankfulness. To think I was initially disappointed to not see the fog, but God wanted something else for me. He wanted to remind me of the radiance of His glory shining before me and upon me.
Similar to how the sun shown over this valley before me, His glory beamed across a deep valley in my life.
And I'm humbled and resting in an overflow of thanksgiving for all He is. He is faithful and He cares about the details. I know this well. I pray you are able to see this in your life, too.
What is your picture of thankfulness this year?
Let's be intentional to lead our hearts to a place of humility and rest so gratitude is ever on our lips.
Let's find strength in His word as we walk the valleys. Let's find the joy building within us as we take time to recognize His hand orchestrating the details of our lives. Let's find peace in His presence and rest in thanksgiving for all He is.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
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