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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thank you is more than just words

Thank you.  Gracias.  Grazie.  Merci.  Dankeschon.  Spasibo.  Whether English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Russian - all these words express gratefulness, thanksgiving, and appreciation.  There are lots of ways to say thank you, but even more ways to show a heart and attitude of thankfulness! I know when I have given a gift which touches the heart, or one of those gifts I "thought" someone would like, but which bombs pretty badly.  It is like the difference between a new video game or a package of underwear on Christmas morning to my grandson.  One will elicit genuine thankfulness - the other will get the prerequisite "thank you", but it will not be heartfelt!  You know which one is the latter!  It is more in what the heart and attitude display than the words we speak which convinces another of our true gratefulness anyway.  

Thank you! Everything in me says “Thank you!” Angels listen as I sing my thanks. I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: “Thank you!” Thank you for your love, thank you for your faithfulness; Most holy is your name, most holy is your Word. The moment I called out, you stepped in; you made my life large with strength. (Psalm 138:1-3 MSG)

How many ways do we express our gratitude to our heavenly Father?  In words, we fall a little short of what our heart means to say, don't we?  If we rely solely upon the words we speak to express our gratitude and God never sees our heart, he won't be as convinced of our gratefulness.  This is why God continually connects the heart (mind, will, and emotions) with the expressions of our mouth - one backs the other up!  Did you ever stop to consider who listens when you express gratitude to God for who he is, what he has done, and where he stands in your life?  I never really did because I always just thought my prayers of thanksgiving were just between me and God.  Then I came across this passage of scripture one day only to discover that these prayers are not "secret"!  They are overheard by angels - not because they are eavesdropping, but because they are purposefully listening to hear them!

Worshipful words are expressed from the heart - they reveal the intensity of gratitude we have toward God.  These are the words which don't escape the attention of the heavenly host.  When thankfulness becomes most noticeable is when it is spoken "from everything in you".  In other words - your actions match your words.  We have all probably been a little guilty of saying "thanks" for stuff we didn't exactly want - like the package of underwear on Christmas. We make a "show" of being "thankful", but in reality we are simply reciting the polite phrase because it is the right thing to do.  There are also times when we come into worship in a place of "just saying the right words" rather than these words being a reflection of what is in our heart.  Did you ever stop to consider that God even receives thanksgiving when we are open about how much disappointment we have experienced, or when we trust him enough to hear our deepest secrets?

We are expressing what our heart holds - this is music to God's ears.  It is more than the formal "thanks God" we speak - it is the trust we place in him, the hope we exude in bringing him our needs, etc.  Yes, he wants (and needs) to hear our words of "thanks", but he also needs to see our heart of trust. There is something which makes the words a little more meaningful when we feel the heart behind them, isn't there?  As we enter into times of intimate communion with our heavenly Father, we come into a place of trust - where we can bring anything and everything before him without fear of how he will "interpret" what we bring, or how he will "treat it".  Even the angels who overhear our prayers don't betray our trust - they simply look toward our heavenly Father to see how he is moved by our heart and how he will move on our behalf when we finally reveal the intensity of faith we are placing in him to handle our life better than we have been able to in the past.

The rest of the psalm probably sums it up better than I can:  When they hear what you have to say, God, all earth’s kings will say “Thank you.”  They’ll sing of what you’ve done: “How great the glory of God!”  And here’s why: God, high above, sees far below; no matter the distance, he knows everything about us. When I walk into the thick of trouble, keep me alive in the angry turmoil.  With one hand strike my foes, with your other hand save me.  Finish what you started in me, God.  Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now. (vs. 4-8 MSG)  You see, OUR thanksgiving is met with God's intervention - he embraces our heart and takes our trust into his care.  His watchfulness is over us and his hand is quick to respond to our need.  Thanksgiving opens the door to heart connection - when it comes with genuine trust in the one who gives even the "gifts" we don't actually understand we have the need of in the first place (like underwear on Christmas morning).

No matter the distance - he knows everything about us.  No matter the need - he stands ready to meet it.  No matter the words we use to express our gratefulness for his watchfulness and care over our lives - he looks deeper into the recesses of our heart to see the trust we place in him.  It isn't easy to trust this deeply, but when we begin to venture into deeper avenues of trusting him with the parts of our lives which we have not trusted him before, this is an expression of thanksgiving he experiences with great joy!  Just sayin!