While surfing the internet for quotes on gratitude and thankfulness, I came across pithy sayings that may “tweet well” but were empty of meaning. I encountered the “be happy with what you have” and “a smile is a blessing” sayings (and my cynical side kept hearing a drawl-sounding “bless your pea-pickin’ heart”)
I came across this quote from Helen Roseveare, who spent her adult life as a missionary doctor in the Congo. She was taken captive during the Civil War there and you will not read any of her books without being profoundly impacted. I cried through much of “Enough” with tears of repentance and surrender to God . . .
“When would I learn the secret of happy, contented teamwork? Why did I always want to be the last link? If I would love the Lord with all my mind, I had to give Him all that I thought I knew or could do, and be willing for Him to place me anywhere within the team to do any job He chose for me. Only then would I experience true peace of mind.”
― Helen Roseveare, Living Sacrifice: Willing to Be Whittled as an Arrow
What does that have to do with gratitude?
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
. . .and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children. . .Deuteronomy 6:5-7
I am grateful for my teachers. Not just the classroom kind. I am grateful for the people who committed themselves to translating the Bible into my language. Even in the 21st century, there are so many people who cannot read the most elementary Bible story in their own language.
I am grateful for the woman who first taught me to read. She instilled in me a love of books, and a desire to learn. I am grateful for libraries and for the people who donate money and books so reading and learning is not just a privilege of the wealthy.
I am grateful for the Sunday School teacher who encouraged me to memorize Scripture. Not just for candy or for points or for charms on my Awana vest. She taught me that by memorizing God’s Word I would be storing up God’s wisdom for me. It would help me to pray. It would help me never to feel alone. I can remember times on an operating table, or during some very unpleasant medical procedure, when fear or worry would begin to swell, that verses I had memorized would come to mind to drown out the fears. Even though “reading a Bible verse” was not possible, the Holy Spirit comforted me with His Words that had been stored in my mind.
I am grateful for the opportunity to pass on what I have learned. The mistakes and the victories. I do not teach from a place of “having arrived.” I am on this journey of life, and I have to fight for joy. Gratitude does not come naturally to me. I must practice and determine to choose joy. I pray that by my children and others seeing me fight, that choosing joy might be just a little easier for them.
As Helen Roseveare said, why do I think I must be the last link? That kind of pride will kill gratitude. I want to be grateful that God would use me anywhere at all! Even feeling “useless or invisible” is pride, because I am telling God that I don’t think He is using me rightly. No! I am not smarter than the Creator of the universe. Contentment will come when I embrace the assignment given to me, and work faithfully and with a thankful heart no matter where I am in the “links of the chain.”
Lord, I want to love You with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. I want people to see that in me. I want to teach that to others. Thank You for saving me, and for giving me a mind to think and to learn and to teach. Amen