Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Brat Gives Thanks

" everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
~ 1 Thessalonians 5: 18

"Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."
~ Psalm 107: 1

As much as I've been itching lately to devote a lengthy blog to the farcical display of grossly misguided naivete parading under the banner of "justice" (I refer to the nauseating executive decision to hold a civil courtroom trial for unrepentant terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed), I've decided to focus my next entry, this one, on more positive things. So, for the moment, I'll set aside political rantings and ravings (and oh, there are so many!) and talk about something very pertinent to the week for most American citizens: Thanksgiving.

My parents lovingly refer to me as "The Brat." I guess it's their pet name for me. Since my wedding day the name has evolved into a playful rendition of my married name, Brotzge. Hence, the new pet name: Bratzge. (Cute, isn't it?) I know that, when my parents call me "The Brat," it is done so in playful affection and love. They don't really think that I'm a brat (at least not most of the time, I presume).

Except for one thing: I am a brat.

Since Thanksgiving is coming up, like a well-programmed robot, about one week prior I begin to meditate on all the things for which I should be grateful. Now here's the part where my utterly self-absorbed, conceited brattiness is evident: I can only name about five or six things before I'm stumbling and faltering over the words and straining to think -- really hard -- about all of my blessings. So it occurs to me, with painful, stinging clarity, that I really am a brat. And I'm the worst kind of brat, too. I'm the kind of ungrateful brat who doesn't truly realize how utterly bratty I am, and who, for myriad reasons, should have not one bratty bone in my body.

But the truth is that I'm a brat.

Now I want you to know what I am not attempting to do here: I'm not attempting to solicit sympathetic condolences meant to assuage guilt. I'm not attempting to be overly harsh toward myself, and I'm not attempting melodramatic melancholy. I want to be truly, brutally honest with myself, with you, and with God. When I reflect on the content of my heart, the sad fact is that I am woefully ungrateful. What makes this so utterly repulsive is that I am abundantly blessed. And what is a brat, after all, but a whining, spoiled ingrate?

It would appear, then, to be a hopelessly depressing scenario, except for one wonderful thing: God's grace.

Oh, the beautiful grace of God. If ever a brat didn't deserve such lavish beauty and unrelenting mercy, then that brat is I. And His grace in His Word reminds me, over and over again, to be thankful. Moreover, He seems to be telling me -- oh so graciously -- to fix my heart on being grateful in whatever my circumstance:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God...

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

And the list goes on and on...

One can determine a great deal about the state of one's heart based on nothing more (or less) than an attitude of thankfulness. And that's why I say, upon reflection, that I realize my heart is not where it needs to be. Not even close. But thank goodness for God's grace, and thank goodness that He allows me to confess and repent and recognize this ingratitude. Thank goodness that He lets me ask that I might have a grateful heart. It seems like such a simple request. In truth, though, to ask for a grateful heart is to ask a loving Father for one of the greatest gifts He gives. It is one of the richest blessings in the universe, an abundant fountain of joy from which nothing less than the heartbeat of life is derived.

I have a long way to go. But before my straining eyes, like emerging stars in the black canvas of night, I can begin to see them: Myriad upon myriad of blessings, shining brilliantly, extending endlessly into the unfathomable reaches of God's grace....

Thank You, Jesus, oh thank You, for these...

  • a wonderful marriage
  • a gentle, loving, and godly husband
  • salvation and freedom from sin
  • hope
  • the Bible
  • the Cross
  • parents that are still married and love each other
  • poetry
  • quiet mornings
  • my narcissistic cat
  • my dear brothers
  • a family with a sense of humor
  • laughter
  • good food
  • friends
  • my church
  • my pastors and their wives
  • my sisters-in-law
  • babies
  • women who courageously choose life for their children
  • learning, learning, learning
  • my wonderful in-laws
  • good books
  • sweet dreams
  • quiet places of great beauty
  • music
  • the stately beauty of barren trees in Winter
  • the warmth of the sun on my face
  • the beauty of Creation
  • eternity
  • chocolate
  • precious nieces and nephews
  • my health
  • the health of those I love
  • the pain and suffering I've been spared in life
  • America
  • freedom
  • my home
  • gerber daisies
  • walking barefoot in the grass
  • sexual intimacy in marriage (this is a really good one, by the way) *wink*
  • my best friend
  • the moon's luminous beauty
  • the sound of water
  • holiness
  • goodness
  • truth