Every Day Thanksgiving
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV)
Every morning, when I wake up, I first turn my mind to God in gratitude. This is a behavior I’ve had to purposefully cultivate. As my mind comes to life in the early morning hours, I whisper nearly the same words every day – God, thank you for today. Thank you for new life and recovery. Thank you for resurrection, renewal, rebirth, and new beginnings. I once was a dead man walking – enslaved to my addiction. I knew nothing but misery and turmoil, but now I experience joy and peace. So, daily, I take time to remind myself of that. I thank God for my new life, and I look back, remembering the old life so that I do what it takes today to never return to it.
In this practice, I’ve learned to turn my mind from myself to God at the start of my day. There was a time when my first thought was – Where are my pills? Even if I wasn’t using drugs though, my first thoughts have usually been about myself – What do I want to do today? In choosing gratitude as my first thought, I purposefully begin my day with my mind pointed at God instead of me.
As Christians, even though we believe in prayer, most of us struggle with doing it consistently. Often, we only go to God only when we desperately need something and we’ve exhausted every possible earthly resource. God though, if we have faith in him, has saved us from ourselves – something we should be thankful for every day. We don’t need to wait for Thanksgiving Day to show our gratitude. Daily, we should go to God, thanking him for what he’s done for us.
The Christian life, as described by Christ in Luke 9:23, is one of daily abandoning our way to follow his. We’re all naturally self-centered though, which makes the Christian life inherently and profoundly difficult to live. One of the best ways to begin turning our minds from self to God is to cultivate a practice of thanking him for everything. Just as the Christian life isn’t something we do once a year on a Holiday, expressing gratitude isn’t something we do annually.
Today, I woke up and thanked God for my new life. Tomorrow, I’ll do the same. In doing so, I start my day off with my mind pointed at God, instead of me. That is what a daily habit of thankfulness does for me.