Friday, January 23, 2015

Thankfulness for the Small Measure Given

In the Christian community thankfulness is just what it is anywhere else in the Christian life. Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things? If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

I was looking up Bonhoeffer quotes recently and came across this one.  It hit me in the stomach and took the wind out of my lungs.

I realized that my struggle to get close to God is in direct proportion to my inability to be grateful.  I am not thankful for "the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience and love" that has been given to me.  Somehow, I think that I should be further along in my spiritual life than I am...whatever that means.

I'm too fixated on my supposed destination rather than being fully in my present reality in the journey.

I have felt for the past 10 years that I'm not sure who my community is and when I think I find it, I somehow lose it.  But, there have been steadfast people throughout my life and have I really stopped to be thankful for those faithful few?  I want to be satisfied with the little I have (which is actually a lot according to Bonhoeffer).

It makes me think of communion.  We only get a small part of the bread and a little sip of the cup.  But it is Enough.  Can I trust God right now, that the small bit that I have is enough?

Bonhoeffer mentions something that Jesus talked about: the fact that one who is thankful in small things will receive the big things.  I can't put the cart before the horse.  There's a "growth" that Bonhoeffer references...I hinder God from growing my fellowship in His terms.  Jesus mentioned the mustard seed in relation to faith: it is the tiniest of seeds, but grows into a branching tree, in which birds can find their nest.

I cannot underestimate the small things in my life...they are where God wants me to grow.  Lord, help me to learn daily gratitude of the small things.

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