The Road From Guilt to Gratitude

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A Way in the Desert

Where am I? It’s so cold and windy here…and dirt is everywhere!

Why is it so dark?  Maybe I still have my flash light…oh, there it is. Good, it still works.

Now, how do I get out of here? Maybe if I just keep walking I’ll find the way out…or, at least something familiar.

What is this? Something is sparkling in the dirt–the wind must have uncovered it. Let’s see… Hu? Oh wow! A jewel, like a sapphire!  It looks like there is something engraved in it.

Where are my glasses? Here they are. Ok, let’s see…Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving.  I remember! How could I ever forget that lesson.  Giving Thanks for everything, Yes, that is how I can get through stressful times, by searching for the gifts God has placed in my life and truly being thankful for them. Yes… recognizing the gifts He’s lavished on me really helps keep my mind on Him instead of my problems. I definitely do not want to forget that hard-learned lesson. Hum… I think I’ll just put this in my bag so I don’t loose it.

Philippians 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Last year was not what I would call a good year, and sometimes I think to would be nice to be able to walk through it leaving behind all the hard things that happened–actually forgetting, and grabbing on to the treasures. I bet my bag would need to be bigger than I expect.

A friend has told me that the way to get through the seemingly impossible times, the way to be content in the worst of situations when there seems no end, is to recognize and think about all the good things that are going on around me instead of focusing on the negative things. The secret is to acknowledge the gifts, the Giver.  They are always there, as He is always there.  It is hard sometimes to shift our gaze from our troubles,

“But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” Psalm 3:3

but when we do, He lifts us up our of our constricting place, and sets us in a spacious one.

When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD;

he brought me into a spacious place.

The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.

What can mere mortals do to me?

The LORD is with me; he is my helper.

I look in triumph on my enemies.

Psalm 118:5-7

I’ve decided to pick eight treasures that I was given last year, eight gems engraved with a word of remembrance that I want to make sure I take with me into this next year.

1) On the Emerald is engraved the word Time.  I want to remember to be present in the moment, appreciating the White Spaces when they come and being thankful to God for the breaks, no matter how small.  Refusing to give in to the temptation to re-live or stew in the dark space–the stressful events that can easily suck away more time than it should, if we let it.

2) On the Amethyst is engraved the word Hope.  I want to remember that His promises are true regardless of my circumstances… that no matter how bad things get, I have a hope and a destiny waiting for me. Because of that, I can take the cup that God hands me, and see the blessings that He’s given through it.

3) On the Rose Quartz is engraved the word Persevere. I want to remember that I can “keep on keeping on” when things get hard just like Jesus persevered.  He kept going, even to his death, all because of his love for me, so that I won’t “not grow weary and lose heart.”

4) On the Sapphire is engraved Thanksgiving.  Remember to search for the treasures God pours down on me, and be thankful for them.  Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

5) On the Diamond is engraved Provision.  Remember that everything I have have, comes from God alone.  All things, not only income and possessions, but my HELP comes from Him as well.  Psalm 121:2 “My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.”  He provides for me according to His riches, not mine.

6) On the Aquamarine is engraved the word Remember.  Remember all that He has done for me from trading places on the cross-putting on my filthy rags and giving me His righteous royal robe, to remembering His promises are always true regardless of the circumstances I see before me, to remembering his Word, and keeping it in the forefront of my mind.

7) On the Ruby is engraved the word Desires.  I want to remember that our loving Father sees the desires of our heart, and He loves to give that desire to us, even when we’ve long given up hope for it.

8) On the Topaz is engraved the word Purified.  I want to remember to lay down my “sufferings” at the foot of the cross, and let Jesus purify me and strengthen me though the trials, instead of fighting tooth and nail against it.  1Peter 4:19 “Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good”  I want to remember that God’s plans for me are much better than I can ever imagine, and that he promises to use the fires of life for good.

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me, that at least sometimes, God makes the “way though the desert” by laying treasures out like bread for a bird along the path.

This year, I believe God is saying to me,  “I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

Happy New Year everyone!  What Treasures will you bring along with you through the year?

Psalm 65:11 “You crown the year with Your goodness & even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.” (NKJ & NLT)

Faith looks to God alone; laughs at impossibilities; dances in anticipation of tomorrow. (The Lewis Awakening of 1858)


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