Sunday

The 3 Best Things I Did in 2013 - Part II

It was such a small thing, really. It took all of 30 seconds to do, yet it was one of the most powerful parts of my day. It counteracted my natural tendency to focus on the negative, helped me walk in faith instead of fear, and caused me to fall in love with God more than ever before. 

In my last post, I shared how reading the Bible through in 2013 impacted my life in a powerful way. Today, I’d like to share something else I did in 2013—I counted 1,000 gifts. 

Several years ago Canadian author Ann Voskamp sparked the gratitude movement with her book, One Thousand Gifts. In it, she shares the story of how friend challenged to her to list 1,000 gifts before the year’s end. She accepted the assignment, and God transformed her life. 

I experienced a similarly powerful effect. 

Because James 1:17 tells us, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” every time I listed a good gift in my life, I also acknowledged the source of those good gifts. 

As I moved through the year and the list got longer and longer, the evidence of God’s love and care toward me also became more and more overwhelming. Listing simple things like sunshine, a nuthatch at my bird feeder, or chocolate reminded me how well God knows me and how much he loves me. Like discovering a love note or a small gift on my pillow from my husband, these sweet gifts were evidence of God’s heart toward me. 

Listing page after page of gifts—a warm bed in which to sleep on a cold night, a long walk with a friend, a phone call from one of my daughters—humbled me. I was the recipient of 1,000 gifts. ONE THOUSAND GIFTS, and my list barely scratched the surface of my life. 

Imagine if you received 1,000 gifts from your boyfriend or husband over the course of a year. What would your conclusion be? He loves me. He LOVES me. HE LOVES ME! The evidence would be unmistakable. 

And so it is with God. 

Counting 1,000 gifts in 2013 affected me in another way—it helped me move further along on the path of spiritual maturity. 

First Thessalonians 5:18 commands us, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Giving thanks involves an act of the will, not just a feeling. 

I’ll be honest with you. Some days, I didn’t feel like counting gifts. And I didn’t feel like giving thanks. There were some days in 2013 that I didn’t even want to get out of bed, let alone thank God. Some of the entries in my thankful journal looked like this: 

I’m thankful that yesterday is over. 

I’m thankful that today is a new day, and God’s mercies are new every morning. 

I’m thankful that broken hearts still beat. 

But gratitude, like love, is an act of the will, not of the heart. It’s choosing to be thankful even when I don’t feel thankful. It’s choosing to obey and trusting that the feelings will follow. 

Moreover, the simple act of acknowledging God’s hand of blessing in my life, whether I feel blessed or not, paves the way for other acts of obedience. Obeying in one spiritual discipline makes other acts of obedience easier. By exercising my spiritual muscles in one area, I noticed they grew stronger in others. Because I was thankful for God’s blessings, I found it easier to give to his work and his people. Grateful hearts are generous hearts. 

Because I had chronicled overwhelming evidence of God’s care toward me, it was easy to assure others of God’s care for them. Because I was convinced that God was intimately involved in my life, I was more likely to bring my cares to him in prayer. Counting 1,000 gifts affected almost every area of my life. 

Like reading my Bible every day, counting 1,000 gifts was one of the best things I did in 2013. On January 1, I began the count again. I’d like to challenge you to join me. You have little to lose and much to gain. Will you begin today? 

And if you've already counted 1,000 gifts, I'd love to hear how it has impacted your life. Leave a comment below and bless us  all. 

If you missed the first post in this series, CLICK HERE to read The 3 Best Things I Did in 2013 - Part I.

In my next blog post, I'll share the third and final best thing I did in 2013. If you haven't already subscribed, why not do so today so you won't miss a single Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time word of encouragement. Enter your email address below, and don't forget to validate your subscription using the email that comes to your inbox. 
 

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