Gratitude Week: Day 2

Meet Elena.  I’m grateful for women at LifeSong like Elena.  She serves from the very depths of who she is.  Today, we are all serving our community by giving away hundreds of free Thanksgiving meals, and Elena and her husband, Mark, have played a huge part in coordinating the details of what will take place today.  You can pray for us, and for Elena, especially, as it’s our heart’s desire to profoundly love on our community today.

Within minutes my eyes tear up, my heart flips then unfolds.  Reflecting in the silence, I’m aware. My gratitude is deep, reverent, eager, joyful.  It’s a humble-heart response to a love I don’t deserve.

Gratitude wasn’t an instant by-product of my salvation, instead it’s been a gradual growing process.  It started when I recognized my need for God, when my soul cried out in despair and repentance.  That initial “yes” was followed by questions about what it meant to follow Christ.  Now that I’d made the choice to do things God’s way, shouldn’t I automatically feel differently?  Why didn’t I feel fixed yet?  I hate to admit, what I felt was guilt and shame over the Cross instead of redemption.  I didn’t grasp the concept of grace or amazing love.

Thankfully, that confusion didn’t last.  The Lord connected us to influential, life-giving people who pointed to Christ with everything they did.   My first teachers, my disciplers were real people who live and love like Jesus, expecting nothing in return.  It took a while, but seeds of gratitude were planted by these people God put in my life. As I studied, I gained trust and understanding about His nature.  God made His presence known in tangible ways too.  He invited me to engage in real relationship with Him and with others when my nature is to watch from the sidelines.  When I obeyed He blessed me with friends.  He insisted I learn to receive and grant forgiveness.  Although I’m still in process I’m covered in grace, mercy, patience and love.

As Mark and I seek to serve and honor our Lord, the “yes”  have greater risk attached. Obedience though has so been worth it.  He’s opened doors and provided resources to accomplish impossible things in His name.  I’ve witnessed things that could only be of God.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His faithful love endures forever.

Here’s the simple truth of how I came to know real gratitude: by making ourselves available to Him, through loving service and obedience. Truly accepting the love of my Savior, and learning how to demonstrate His love has unleashed a spirit of gratitude that’s become a catalyst for even greater love, for more intentional service.  The “yes” now comes easier, giving is more natural, sacrifice doesn’t feel that sacrificial.   Relationship trumps housekeeping.  We’re learning what’s important and casting aside what isn’t.  We live more simply.  We open up our home.  The experiences of servant leadership and international mission fertilized the seeds of gratitude which turned into a heart’s desire for others to know what we know.

Thankful I am for my great God, the One who loved me first, loved me enough to send His perfect son to take on the penalty of my sin, who loves me in spite of my brokenness and prideful nature, because He knows the plans He has for me and because He made me for so much more.

Yes, for all these things, for you and heaven too, I am eternally grateful.

Elena Bowling and her husband, Mark, are partners of LifeSong Church- Lyman.  Currently a stay at home wife, Elena enjoys cooking for her family and friends, hosting LifeGroup, international missions, serving the community and watching as much HGTV as she can get away with!  She was blessed with one daughter from a previous marriage, as well as three step daughters, all grown.  Although fairly new in her Christian walk, Elena humbly shares her journey in the hopes encouraging others.  Her blog can be found at all4the1.wordpress.com

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