Written by Patty Spykstra:
Who would have thought that RT Kendall would join us for dinner? Yes, author of More of God is a regular guest as we listen to his book online.
I was struck by Kendall’s words “if we desire more of God we need a spirit of thankfulness.” With honesty he addresses grumbling and gratitude. Kendall is always quick to mention his own struggles and openly shares how the Holy Spirit convicted him of his lack of thankfulness. He also reminded us, while we ate dinner, about the Israelites grumbling, how only 1of the the10 Lepers was thankful, and the impact of our words. Kendall states: God hates ingratitude, gratitude must be taught, and God loves gratitude. These phrases prompted me to come up with my own list. I encourage you to do the same.
I have Ingratitude to God for:
1. I am not in control.
2. I don’t think something is fair.
3. I simply do not like what is happening. 4. I don’t trust God’s plan.
5. I want immediate results.
My list includes a lot of “I statements.” Am I more focused on me than the Great I AM? I did not expound on my reasons for ingratitude, but perhaps you can talk about your list with someone else or as a family and find scriptures to refute what may be at the root of ungratefulness in certain areas of your life. There will be days which are just difficult and unfair and it is okay to share or vent to others, but learning to “dignify the trial” as RT would say is key to moving toward a living a life of thankfulness and more of God.
How was I taught Gratitude & how do I model Gratitude:
In his book Kendall examines the power of words; words that may be spoken or written or passed along. The book of Proverbs and words of Jesus come to mind when thinking about this topic. Who modeled gratitude to you? Do you and I model gratitude?
I have Gratitude to God for: There is something powerful about speaking words of gratitude. Here is the start of my list reflecting on 2020.
1. Being Here. Oceans Retreat Center started out according to plan, with excitement about the high school mission team and the Haven work team, with celebrating the dedication and sharing that time with family, friends and local ministries, but then things drastically changed. Being here for such a time as this has reminded me that I am not in control and need to accept what each day brings. I need to acknowledge that God may have a different way of working all things together for His good and I need to trust His sovereign plan and who would have guessed that plan would include a coffee shop!
2. God’s Word. When Covid restrictions came into place our Oceans’ team realized how little control we possessed and as a result scheduled a weekly time of study and prayer with Mike & Dawn in the states. Reading through Climbing Prayer Mountain, the book of Ephesians and now John has been a time of spiritual growth for each of us and we can always count on Thobeka’s prayer including “Lord we thank you for your Word.”
3. Gift of Song. Africans sing and dance! When we are worshipping with those who exude such JOY, it is truly contagious, even when it is a 6-hour service. The Blessing by Kari Jobe and Waymaker by Leeland are also powerful songs that testify who our God is!
4. Fellow Believers. It has been such a gift to connect with others seeking to make the Father known and spend time in prayer and fellowship. “Encouraging the encouragers” has always been a mantra of mine and with all the cancellations Oceans Retreat Center has been able to offer a few days away to those ministering on the frontlines. Also thankful to bless the Oceanview preschool teachers, Bernie and Marion with gift cards as well as local pastors in the townships. Thanks to many of you Oceans Ministries has also provided food and other provision for many others during this season.
5. Each of You. The number of phone calls, prayers, texts, emails, pictures and songs sent, tangible gifts, and support particularly this year has been a huge hug from our Father. The trust you place in us to be good a steward of your gifts humbles us. We offer our sincere thanks from Fish Hoek SA and in Michigan. We miss the love, laughter and meals shared during those busy months that now seem ages ago and yet the slower pace of life forced us to listen and encourage those God has called us to minister to one at a time.
Now that I’ve gotten started on this list, I could go on and on and Tim may never have me write this blog again. So I end with this:
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.“ Hebrews 12:28
I pray that each of us can testify that even though our lives have been rattled our foundation has stood firm. In the midst of so much uncertainty, loss, and fear may we find within our souls a spirit of gratitude and worship for our God!