Since We Are Receiving a Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken, Let Us Be Thankless?
Updated: Aug 31, 2020
How the grumbling of my heart is secretly ruining my life and how yours might be, too.
Since taking over a handful of aspects of the tech team at my church, my time has been thin in our Kid's Ministry. The reality of that leaves me a bittersweet feeling. On one hand, poopy diapers are not my problem, for now. On the other hand, I miss laughing and being sanctified by attempting to rationalize with a two-year-old. Littles truly do teach you innumerable tangible lessons.
Somehow though, I found myself watching a sweet, educated, talkative, and thoughtful two-year-old for one of the tech volunteers before Thursday night service. This dad's daughter was smart! When my friend and I asked her how she knew so much, she responded, "God." Homegirl had some hardy theology already.
The routine I saw from this little though was extremely typical. She would entertain herself with trains. That lasted twenty minutes. She pulled down some blocks off the shelf and that caught her attention for ten minutes. Over and over she would give herself to an activity and then charge the shelves for something different. All the while doing so, she would attest with her verbiage, more, more, more.
It sparked a tug in my heart, like most sanctifying lessons do, to this type of behavior and how it's exhibited in my own life. Desiring more and not appreciating what's before me pits me against thankfulness.
As I've battled my heart through this season, my whole being has been met with a tragic heart issue of mine. I am completely thankless. Much of the time.
Like the two-year-old, I am always craving more. Always pulling toys off the shelf and asking for more. Seeing the bounty of blessings scattered throughout but desirous for more. Being thankful would mean that I see the treasure in front of me and I continue to be attentive to it. My attention would stay locked on the toys I have because I am captivated by them. Being thankless is drawn to value only momentarily before I start to long for more and for different.
One of the things I am most thankless for is my apartment. The key to the joint was mine on Valentine's Day 2020. I am going to be such a better minister of the Gospel because I have a space to call my own, I told myself with solid intentions. Then COVID-19 smacked us up. I didn't invite anyone over, for months. The living room didn't have a couch for nearly ninety days. My savings account was draining and I was having mental breakdowns frequently. I was, and still am at times, angry and bitter about my decision to move out.
But boy oh boy has God moved in me during this time. The Lord has allowed me to serve people in this apartment. I have learned an abundance about caring for a home, paying bills, addressing my mental health, and tried-and-true wisdom about handling money. All being skills I wouldn't have learned otherwise. What's not to be thankful for?
My thanklessness is causing me to be blind to the challenges that help me grow.
Another area of my life I've recognized my wrongful thanklessness is my relationship with my boyfriend. I've already exposed myself on Scouting Grace that I have a hard time with misplaced and unacknowledged-by-me heavy expectations. We're honest around here. He does so much, like literally so much, but I regularly ask for more. Whyyyyyy Maggie, whyyyy. Having a hefty expectancy list on a flawed but striving human being and then barraging for more is not the definition of thankfulness.
There could be a blog post filled to the brim of all that guy is. Every comfort mid-panic attack. Every long day recap. Every kind act of service. Every "Good morning" text. Every time he points me to Jesus. Every anything honestly. He's there for me. He gives me so much to be thankful for, just by being himself.
I want a heart that is so in the moment and so thankful that I can recognize the love of others and actually be appreciative of them for it.
Another big ticket item where my thanklessness rears its ugly head is my job. No matter where you work, there are tough days. There's often a thin line between your personal life and your professional life. Getting to a place of rest is usually difficult. Ministry is a whole new level. People forget you're a broken person attempting to help other broken people know and love Jesus.
But, you guessed it, there's so much to be thankful for here. Do you know why? Because Jesus is at work. Jesus is at work every time my Pastor gets up to preach the Word. Jesus is at work every time someone has a hard conversation in grace and truth. Jesus is at work every time someone grabs a cup of coffee from a smiling volunteer. If you work in ministry, a secular job, or you stay at home, Jesus is at work in what you're doing.
Do you see the commonality in what I struggle with? It's with the good stuff that presents difficulty but results in growth.
I grow when I turn in my rent payment online each month with a stomach ache. I grow when my boyfriend and I have a disagreement, my pride gets hurt, and an apology from my lips is necessary. I grow when my heart is heavy and I don't feel like clocking in, but by God's good grace do it anyway. Why am I not thankful for this epic amount of growth that's working in me on a daily basis? Being thankless is ruining my life. It's robbing me the chance to have joy in my sanctification. I want to be thankful for these growing opportunities, even if they feel hard in some moments.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29
This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It's why I have strong convictions on my thanklessness. Far outside my temporal circumstance is the reality that the Gospel gives me a lot to be thankful for. Do you see how Hebrews words it? Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. I can stand up with a thankful heart because Christ has been delivered up for me, a wicked sinner, and the benefits of closeness to Him are eternal. It's good to have perspective. Being grateful for my apartment is important. Being thankful for my boyfriend is extremely vital. Giving thanks for my job is fundamental, but even at the end of the day no matter what, Christ is worthy and I can be thankful for Him and in Him.
The most convicting thing of all is not just that I'm taking so many blessings in my life for granted, but that I'm taking the biggest and most true blessing in my life for granted by not responding to it, and everything else that flows from it, with genuine thankfulness.
What are the ordinary things you see yourself daily taking for granted? Where do you see the toys scattered about but ask for more unnecessarily? What are the things you get most easily frustrated with? How are those things actually a place set apart for true thankfulness because they aid your growth? How can you respond in thankfulness for the Gospel and what Jesus has purchased on your behalf?
May we see the trains and blocks and blessings in front of us and point them out as so. Lord, strip the parts of us that ask for more selfishly and ungratefully. When we do ask for more, Lord, may it be more of only You.