In the book, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath, Mark Buchanan talks about the importance of gratitude in our lives. I was especially struck by these lines:
“Thankfulness is a secret passageway into a room you can’t find any other way…. It allows us to discover the rest of God—those dimensions of God’s world, God’s presence, God’s character that are hidden, always, from the thankless. Ingratitude is an eye disease every bit as much as a heart disease. It sees only flaws, scars, scarcity….
“You cannot practice thankfulness on a biblical scale without its altering the way you see. And the more you do it, the more you find cause for doing it. Inherent in a life of thanksgiving is an ongoing discovery of God’s sufficiency, his generosity, his fatherly affection and warrior protection….” (p. 67-68)
Then he tells this story:
“In Guelph, Ontario, there’s a riverside park landmarked with large intricate sculptures: a dinosaur, a man riding a bicycle, a child and his mother. But these are no ordinary sculptures. Each is made from the debris collected from the riverbed. Every year, the city drains the river by a system of channel locks, then invites people from the community to scour the river’s muddy floor and clean up the garbage scattered along it. A welter of refuse is dredged up: shopping carts, tires and rims, car hoods, baby strollers, bikes and trikes, engine blocks, rakes and shovels, urinals, copper plumbing, wine bottles, shoes, thousands of pop cans. Mountains and mountains of rust-scabbed rubbish, slick with algae, are hauled out. Rather than truck all this garbage off to a landfill, the city calls its sculptors together. Each artist is given a mound of junk and commissioned to make from it beauty. The created works are then showcased along the very river from which the raw materials have come.
“God does that. He works all things together for good for those who love him and are called to his purposes. He takes junk and sculpts art.
“And the primary way we participate in that is thanksgiving. Be thankful in all things.” (p. 68)
I am extremely grateful for this sabbatical I am on, I am thankful for a church that has allowed me to take it, and for some grants that have provided the needed funds. I am thankful for all that I have seen, enjoyed, experienced , and learned. (Since I have been through a detached retina in one eye and tears in the retina in the other eye, I am very grateful that I have been able to see the things I have seen.) I am grateful for the time I have spent (or will spend in the coming days) with various members of my family. I am thankful for all the wonderful people I have met in my travels and for the kindnesses they have shown to me. I am thankful for the great church I will soon be returning to. And I am thankful that God has promised to keep doing in me the work that will grow me to be all that He intends for me to be.