What can I give back to God for the blessings he’s poured out on me? I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God! I’ll pray in the name of God; I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do, and I’ll do it together with his people.
~ Psalm 116: 12-14 (the message)
Lately I have been feeling a lot like the Psalmist who wrote this. What CAN I give back to the God who has lavished me with goodness? I was visiting a friend’s church this past weekend and we sang this song and basically, the only words in the song were “thank you” – The song was incredibly cheesy, it seemed like the keyboard was on some wonky setting that reminded me of all things churchy and words like “fellowship” and “afternoon social”- but I digress…
The point is, amidst the ugly music, the words of the song happened to be the words of my heart.
I am so thankful.
So, in my usual style, I started to REALLY question what I could give back to God? How does one live out of thankfulness? I think that there are innumerable answers to what this might look like. I am reminded of John 21:16 where Jesus asks John if he really loves him and after John answers “yes,” Jesus tells him to look after his sheep. In my recent uber-awareness of being thankful, it does feel a lot like I am saying “i love you, i love you, i love you” a lot…and I get that out of this love that I have, I can turn it into action by loving the people that God loves- in tangible and non-tangible ways.
I’ve recently been challenged to not be such a “love-snob” (my own words). Essentially that means is that I am learning to stop judging whether or not someone loves people or Jesus or whatever based on how “all-in” they are, or how radical or how holistically they love and serve people. I apologize if this isn’t clear, but what I am learning from this is that (in Matt’s words) -we put a lot of conditions on love.
What does putting conditions on love have to do with living out of thankfulness you might ask? I might ask that too- as apparently I am the queen of rambly tangents….
Well, at the same time that I started thinking about thankfulness I realized that the way one lives out gratefulness does not necessarily need to be big and radical- in fact, there is a particular beauty to paying attention to the small, the minute, the limitless ways to love and be thankful. I don’t need to necessarily wait until I can lead the life of simplicity or justice that I want to in order to love. That doesn’t mean that the ideal, the radical, and the life altering choices we make aren’t important- it just means that it is not right to think that “grateful living” is only borne out of lofty ideals, despite how ‘right’ they might be.
Life in community is an example of this- recently a few of my friends have been going through tricky situations and it’s been a privilege in the deepest sense of the word to be able to be there for them- because I know that in my previous times of need, they have been the people who have been there for me. It’s a small and simple thing- loving and caring for one’s close friends is not a life altering idea- but it’s still love. I know that my friends who are facing challenges are welcome to drink out of the reserve of thankfulness and confidence of God’s faithfulness that is within me- I know this solely because at times I have borrowed the very same thing from them. Even as I think about community and how incredibly grateful I am to have friends to share life with- literally-to share life with, again I question, “what can I give back to the God who has poured out these incredible blessings on me?” Maybe the real answer is that there is nothing we can give back- nothing that would ever make us even. It’s grace.