As we go through life with all its challenges, heartaches and stresses, it’s often hard to be grateful. And with the 24-7 on demand, online world we also inhabit, we are so easily swept into the trending currents, flowing ever faster downstream to where we really want to be.
It’s hard to stop and enjoy the scenery. Let alone be grateful. But to preserve our sanity, reclaim our inner peace and be fully human, we must.
So I’d like to share five thoughts that, I hope, will help you walk in a cloud of gratitude.
Take some time each day to pause and reflect upon all that is good in your life, especially those simple things we often take for granted, like the gift of waking up another day. Time spent like this each day doesn’t have to be long, especially at first. But it must be consistent. May I suggest you start by carving out 10 minutes from your busy day to begin reflecting? For me, the best time for this is in the early morning hours. The important points to remember are: begin now, carve out 10 minutes sometime each day, repeat each day.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul reminds us:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)If you want to walk in a cloud of gratitude, begin by reflecting upon the good.
We human beings are so immediate, so much the creatures of The Now. Whatever is most pressing gets our greatest attention, whether it warrants it or not. We live our lives in a series of “Look, squirrel” moments. And if we spend our entire lives this way, when we reach our twilight, we are filled with regrets and not gratitude. But we do have control over what tries to control us. We can guard each day with our shield of core values and life priorities. Whatever goes against these is repelled; whatever supports these adheres.
We as warriors for Christ place Christ at the center of our lives; it is He who is sovereign and it is He whom we obey. These are our values at our core.
If you want to walk in a cloud of gratitude, guard each moment with your shield of core values and life priorities.
Another cloud-snatcher in our lives is not being fully present in those lives. Human beings so easily either dwell in the past or soar into the future, forgetting the in-between. This “in-between” is really where life happens. It is the only moment we are guaranteed, the only moment we can reasonably control, the only moment we can use to move our lives forward. And the only moment when we can be grateful. Yes, learn from the past. Yes, plan the future. But dwell in the moment.
It's important for us to dwell in the moment, as we don't know the time we have on this earth, only God does. As the psalmist writes:
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
If you want to walk in a cloud of gratitude, be fully present in each moment.
We are the only creatures on earth who imagine, reflect, ask why. We are the only creatures on earth who yearn for “something more” beyond this material life. This yearning is in our DNA; we can’t escape it. The 17th Century French mathematician Blaise Pascal expressed this so well when he said that within each human heart is an “infinite abyss” and the only thing that fills an infinite abyss is something infinite. And the only something that is infinite is God. This filling both satisfies our deepest longings and propels our hearts far beyond what we can see or logically know. Life is no longer slogging through the muck; it is frolicking in the heavens. It gives us a greater purpose.
If you want to walk in a cloud of gratitude, fulfill your greater purpose.
Undergirding each of these suggestions is intentionality. Without being intentional about our lives, we will be living another’s life. In her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departed, Australian author and speaker Bronnie Ware discovered that the top regret of those facing death was wishing they had the courage to live the lives they wanted, not what someone else expected.
If you want to walk in a cloud of gratitude, be intentional.