Some of you may relate if you have kids of your own, nieces or nephews, or considered caretaker of some little ones. I am sure like me you can’t count the number of times you have to say, “no” to their consistent requests whether it be the well placed candy in the check-out line (some parent CEO totally designed that set-up to bank millions…way to not be on our team…) or that must-have toy, t-shirt or experience that the child so desires. There is a lot of nay-saying that happens on a daily basis when little hearts see what is right before their limitless minds. And it only takes 3 seconds before they have forgotten the response of “no” before they proceed to ask again. and again. and if they are really pushing it – again. The hardest is when one of their requests teeters on the fine line between a need and a want. Because our hearts lean to them, out of love, we want them to have the desires of their hearts. We want them to know how much we care for them and often times we feel that the way to display our love is to say, “yes.” While often times we can’t say “yes” for many reasons. Our wisdom can see cause and effect in a way that they cannot. We shepherd them into safe pastures. Their eyes, hearts and minds can’t fathom certain outcomes and so we are there to lead them. It is heart-breaking at times to see their spirit when the answer has to be “no” and it is soul-satisying to witness their heart response to the “yes.”
An experience with my daughter recently lit a spark in my heart in light of gratitude. During a one-on-one outing with my oldest girl we ventured to some antique stores and ran a few errands. At our last stop she was independently perusing the toy aisle while I was checking out what I consider to be my toy aisle, home decor…how many baskets are too many? When we finally came back together I caught on that she had spied some Barbie clothes (knock-off at that). I considered things. This was definitely not a need, however I am of the opinion that Barbie fashion shows are really difficult to pull off with a limited wardrobe. But for some reason I felt the pull to say, “You know what, go ahead and pick one doll dress out for you and one for your sister.” Her response was the sweetest – “Really!? She would love the purple one. I think I’ll get the white.” I loved seeing her so excited. I had noticed this other set to the side that had a few more dresses along with a doll but she didn’t mention it and neither did I so we moved along to the check-out line. For some reason as we were getting closer to the register I looked over to her and told her to go ahead and trade the doll outfits out for the box that had the doll with the extra dresses. She ran back to the aisle, grabbed the box set and was beaming. As we were checking out she asked to skip the bagging, held the box and made all sorts of comments about the extra items (Barbie earrings are a killer bonus – and will totally be lost by day two). Getting to the car, and I hope I never forget her voice, she said a few times, “Thank you so much mom, I can’t believe you got us this! I never thought you would get me this!” Beaming. She was beaming. I was beaming. It was this space and time of authentic gratitude. So peaceful. Life-giving. I mean it was a knock-off Barbie set. She recognized this gift. An undeserved gift and her heart was just bursting with a desire to express such unrehearsed gratitude. She could not help but say it as she reflected on what had transpired. And I knew it was authentic. I knew that my purchasing her that set was no gauge of my love for her. I loved her just the same before and after her response but there was a pleasure in knowing the way it blessed her. The way she was excited to use the gift. Even as bedtime came around she was still expressing her thanks. So intentional and so heart-felt.
The beauty of the moment is that it reveals to me a facet of God’s delight. The utter pleasure and delight the Lord of all creation receives from our hearts of gratitude. In the intimate relationship between Father and Son – Jesus calls out to God in the form of “Abba” – “Daddy.”
“Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'”
The Lord invites us into this type of relationship with Him through the gift of His Son. Jesus is the blessing, the greatest gift, that through His death on the Cross and His resurrection from the dead – we were given the gift of eternal life. In trusting the Lord, in submitting to Him the great gift of eternal life is ours because of God’s great sacrifice. It has been said by many that the best way to start each day is by “preaching” yourself the Gospel. Simply remember. Remember the act of love that took place on the Cross. The humility of God, in the person of Christ. Have a heart full of gratitude that He loved you so much that He gave His Son for you. The cherry on top is the fact that our Father, yes, the Lord of all things, our Father, delights in the continual blessing of His people. He receives great delight in the way our heart sings at the seemingly smallest of gifts. His deep delight comes from the Jesus-wrapped hearts of His beloved sons and daughters singing songs of gratitude, songs of remembrance that He is with us. “He delights in hearing your voice,” is what I say to my babes. It’s true. Of them. Of you. Of me. There is no requirement. I did not demand a thanks from my daughter. And God does not demand thanksgiving from His children. When we become aware of the blessing that surrounds us, the gifts that are undeservedly bestowed upon us, because of the Father’s deep delight, a heart of gratitude will be overflowing. Sometimes we can feel that we are getting a whole lot of “no” responses from the one who claims to have loved us from before the foundation of the world, sometimes we can feel that the “no” is a point on which we can gauge God’s love for us but it is not – it is no more the gauge for God than it is for the love you hold for the little one you so dearly love. Because God is greater. He knows all things and in Him all things hold together. So while the “no” may feel that way we must rest in the Gospel. That His love knows no bounds. He went to the depths of hell to conquer death and He did – because you are His and there ain’t no way He was going to leave you or forsake you! He lives. Jesus lives and His life enables us to beam. To glorify Him in the midst of His blessing. EVEN in the midst of the waiting, the “no”, and the not yet. The promise of His presence always stands.
May we practice hearts of gratitude and be aware of Him who surrounds us, who desires to give us all good things, according to His purpose. And may we never stop. Never stop remembering His faithfulness. Until it is time for bed let our hearts be bursting to sing songs of gratitude to our Father, our Daddy.