Hi everyone. Rob here.
28 years ago on Easter Sunday, 1988, the Spirit of God summoned me to lay my life down and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. It wasn’t the beginning of my journey; God had always been leading me, but it did mark an awakening as I experienced a love and peace that told me I was now made new. Life since has been a series of mountains and valleys, detours and distractions, blessing and beauty, and several search and rescue missions mounted by my Lord and Friend, Jesus.
Today I reflect and I am grateful for the life I have. It starts with the fact that I am breathing. I have been given the gift of life and, therefore, the gift of living. I get to partner with God in creating my life, something no one else has ever tried before (heads up to Rob Bell for that statement). I move to the fact that I slept in a warm bed with a roof over my head. I ate breakfast meaning that there was food on the table. I received loving embraces from my family meaning that love is part of my daily existence. I was able to drive to work – via school – meaning that I have a means of transportation. I have a job where I get to love, dream, create, pray, study and enjoy loving community. This job pays me well enough to free me from worry over paying my mortgage or my power bill. I am grateful for friends, mentors and work colleagues who challenge me even as they want the best for me.
I’ll be the first to admit that my gratitude list is a pipe dream for the vast majority of this world who live in circumstances of poverty or oppression or ill-health or, simply, constant pressure from never having quite enough. That thought makes me examine my gratitude list and ask the question, if I had a ‘Job’ experience and it was all taken away, what would I still be grateful for? Would I still be grateful for anything?
My hope would be that I would still be grateful for life, for breathing, for my existence. More than that my hope would also be that I remain grateful that I am loved beyond measure by the God who created me. The proof being that He sent his son Jesus to rescue me, show me mercy, bring me home and fill me with his Spirit. I am alive. I am loved. I am rescued. I am a temple for the Spirit of God. Those are realities beyond my comfortable external existence. And yours.
If today finds you struggling to give thanks, to love, to eat, to function, then it’s time to pause, to sit and to breathe. Let yourself slow down enough so that you pay attention to every breath you take. Imagine God breathing life into you with every inhale, and taking your every burden with every exhale. You are alive which means there is hope and possibility and you are not alone, because it’s God who gives you your life. As you become aware of the miracle of your life become aware of the fact that because you live, you are loved. You are your Father’s daughter. You are your Father’s son. He embraces you and welcomes you home, no matter how bedraggled and broken you are. Breathe in the Father’s love, the Saviour’s love, the Spirit’s love. Know that Jesus came for you. Yes you! He’s the one who takes those burdens you’ve been breathing out. He’s the one whose resurrection life you’re breathing in. Welcome his presence. You are a worthy temple for his Spirit and he comes to you, for you so he can be with you.
May gratitude be yours today. May it not be just because of favourable circumstances but because you have welcomed into your very being the life, love and Spirit of God. Grace and peace.