There is a story in Luke 17 about ten lepers who Jesus healed. They all called out to him and begged him for mercy, and Jesus stopped briefly to tell them to show themselves to the priest. It was the priest who could declare them “clean” or “unclean;” fit to be in society or unfit to be in society. They turned to obey Jesus and on their way they were all healed of their disease.

Of the ten, one, so overcome with gratitude, turned back, worshiping God, and thanked Jesus. The text makes the point that this man was a Samaritan, an outsider not only because of his disease but also his racial heritage. After questioning this man about the others who were healed, Jesus tells him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

I have heard a number of sermons preached on this text. And some of those have come to mind recently. The sermons always get to the point with questions like

“What has God done for you?”

“Are you one of the 9 who wander merrily into your state of mercy and grace forgetting the giver, or are you the one who turns back with a grateful heart, remembering that apart from Jesus you can do nothing?”

“What part does thanksgiving play in your daily worship?”

Gratitude is not something we can conjure or fake. It wells up deep within us when we are certain that the gift is beyond our ability to grasp for ourselves…something we always wanted, but could not attain. In the absence of true gratitude, we can always practice thankfulness. Thankfulness as a discipline makes room in our hearts for us to begin looking outside ourselves for the good things in our lives. God does not hold back rain or sunshine for the just or the unjust; so my thought is that every good gift we receive comes from Him, even if we are not seeking Him. When we practice thanking Him, no matter what our situation, there is an in-road for His Spirit to draw us into true gratitude, and somehow that can ignite faith that makes us well.

Our pastor recently asked us to write down some of the things we are thankful for, ways that God has shown up throughout our lives, and so here is my list. I am sharing it with you in hopes that you might consider making your own list. My list is more chronological than by importance, and each of these things is a story or memoir yet to be written, so stay tuned!

As we write our lists may the Lord make all of our hearts truly grateful. May we come to see that it is by Him we live and breathe and have our being.

I am thankful for

1) parents who love me and taught me what a relationship with the Living God through Jesus looked like by their life examples.

2) a brother who truly loves me and admires me even when I don’t deserve it.

3) a chance to travel and live in another country far away from the culture I grew up in so that I could really see the goodness of God.

4) a second chance to follow Jesus and a clear understanding that the path He chose for me is more desirable than any other path I might chose for myself.

5) hope that does not disappoint.

6) good friends and mentors who push me toward truth and challenge me to live my life according to my deepest convictions.

7)a good education.

8) a chance to run cross country for high school and college; it was while running God revealed to me some of my deepest understandings of relationship with him.

9) failure because it forced me to find hope beyond my circumstances.

10) countless opportunities to share my stories with people, so they can see how well God loves.

11) a chance to teach and mentor young people.

12) 11 to 15 year olds because I like who I am with that age group.

13) a full house, plenty of food, and music…in short I am thankful for good parties, both planned and unplanned!

14) a husband who loves me and helps me laugh at the quirkiness of life when I’m tempted to take things too seriously; all the moments in public and private that my husband and I get to share together.

15) in-laws who are kind and more generous with themselves and their lives than I deserve or could ever hope for.

16) three good children and the hope for more someday.

17) a chance to pass on to my children what was given to me.

18) a burden to care and a heart to pray.

19) that I was expected to memorize scripture all my life, because when my spirit was awakened by the Holy Spirit, it was through the scripture that I memorized He most often spoke to my heart.

20) a chance to love and serve and grow in a community of people who want to know and follow Jesus.

21) the opportunity to write.

22) dreams that I know will be fulfilled either in this life or the next!

23) friends who take time to listen to my dreams and thoughts and hopes and fears.

24) prayer partners.

25) all of the little daily ways the Lord is constantly showing up and telling me He loves me, relieving my fears, giving me rest, placing me in intimate moments, revealing Himself through the mundane and the miraculous, making me constantly aware that He will never leave me.

I asked Thomas if he thought I forgot anything. He said, “I’m sure you did.”

“Can you think of anything?” I asked.

“Nope.”

So, for today, that’s the list…of course it will always be a work in progress.

Please share some of yours with me. I love to know the joy in other people’s lives.


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