Stories… I love to sit and listen to the stories of others! Shared stories are the stuff from whence wisdom springs. They are treasures, a testimony of times past and present, of growing up years, and of challenges and celebrations.
I remember many family gatherings and the sharing of memories and information, and am glad I collected some of my mother’s remembrances like, “Your grandfather had large hands. I remember how big they were when he held my hand in his.” She and my dad told me of hobbies and skills that our ancestors possessed, where they lived or grew up, struggles and hard times they went through, accomplishments and much more.
Do you remember stories shared through family or friends? As we smile and laugh about past antics and quirky natures, connections are formed. As we learn about struggles and pains, tragedy or overcoming, and doubts and faith, we gain deeper insights. Yes, stories are the essence of humanity.
It’s no wonder that Jesus shared stories, usually in the form of parables. Through them he taught the importance of discernment and truth, teaching in a form in which others could relate. He said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” * I like the way the book of Proverbs opens, expressing the importance of learning, wisdom, and instruction. *
Stories… from the head shaking, foot stomping, belly laughs of epic escapades to the deeply thoughtful, wonder-filled, or heart sighing moments, are of value and worth. They help guide us in our search and desire to gain perspective and understanding, which in turn can nurture compassion for others. May we value and treasure them and approach them with discernment and thought, gaining encouragement, and discovering a deeper connection and love for all peoples.
• Sometimes we see things sharply and clearly • On other occasions all is dark and clouded • What we see is not always what others see • What others see may be the opposite of our own observations • Exaggerated reflections bring fun laughter • Reflected images give us new perspectives • Considering other perspectives is beneficial to all • Our actions and words are a reflection of our character • Struggles and joys are expressed in what we say and do • Thoughtful reflection often yields positive outcomes
“I hope they get here soon. I can hardly wait to see everyone!” There’s something about time together with friends and loved ones that satisfies us deep down. We wait in anticipation for visits or celebrations, yearning to see them. We’re thankful for opportunities to be with family and friends and for the support and encouragement of others.
Time alone is important too. I value and look forward to my alone times because those moments turn me and stretch me toward our Creator. Struggles and challenges in life make me aware of my own neediness. Quiet times allow me to listen from the depths of my being.
One of my favorite pieces of music is “The Yearning” by Craig Courtney. He expresses so well our struggles and our desire for a better future, for Emmanuel… God with us. “There is a yearning in hearts weighed down by ancient grief… hearts that in the darkness hide… a yearning for tomorrow.” We find joy in a “Lord who visited His own.”
Job longed to see God. He said, “I will see God. I myself will see him with my own eyes, I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job had a lot to face and yet he still looked to God!
Don’t we all want things to go well and to make it through any difficulties? We want full and meaningful lives. We yearn for God with us. May our yearning be satisfied as we approach God, thanking Him for His sacrifice and provision, and may we live in anticipation and fullness of life, guarded by His presence.
“Say thank you,” Momma reminded us. Whether it was home-baked cookies, a special gift, or a compliment, the importance of expressing our gratitude was a lesson learned early. Family gatherings and meals were opportunities to be polite as we enjoyed each other’s company: “Would you like some more?” … “Yes, thank you!”
When ten lepers were healed after encountering Jesus, only one returned to him to give God thanks. The fact that this man was also a despised Samaritan, one of mixed Jewish race, was even more amazing… or perhaps it was more understandable. This man knew what it felt like to be rejected on an even deeper level.
Thanks is also spoken in anticipation of what is yet to be received. When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish to feed the large crowd which had gathered, he offered thanks before the miracle occurred and the food was provided. He trusted that God would supply what was needed. Before Lazarus was raised from the dead, Jesus prayed and gave thanks, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.”
There is something about the expression of gratitude that brings happiness and encouragement to everyone. It is more than a simple thank you, hug, or smile. Gratitude is a recognition of goodness and caring. It acknowledges the act of giving, which says, “You matter!”
How God must love to receive our thanks to Him… that same recognition of His goodness and care and that we His children matter to Him! The ten men were still covered with leprosy, yet they turned to show themselves to the priests, anticipating their healing which had not yet occurred. Isn’t that amazing?! It is so hard to thank God when we are in the middle of our own struggles or grief. How can I thank God in times when my world seems to be falling apart?! Yet, like the lepers, we can confidently go forward… Isn’t it also difficult at times to give thanks to God when we are full and satisfied, when life is restored and good, and to recognize or acknowledge His provision?
Gratitude. How will we express it …and how will we experience it in both the receiving and the giving?