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Choose gratitude
November 21, 2011
by Rev. Lee Hallstrom, Light of Christ Lutheran Church, Delano

It was a rainy morning and he was in a small neighborhood restaurant for breakfast. His wife had recently left him, and his faith in himself, other people, and God was almost non-existent.

There was no joy in his life. And, on this bleak morning, the atmosphere outside the diner was reflected in the silent, hunched shoulders of those who were eating or drinking coffee – each one seemingly locked into their own thoughts, their own lives.

Then, a little girl, who was seated in a small booth with her mother, broke the terminal silence, “Momma, why don’t we say our prayers here?”

The innocence of that loud comment spun the waitress around to look, and seeing the little girl, the waitress smiled and said, “Sure, honey, we pray here. Will you say the prayer for us?”

And then she turned to the other diners and said, “Bow your heads.” And they did!

The little girl prayed loudly, “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food. Amen.”

Everything changed in that diner. People looked up and at one another and began to talk to each other. The waitress, smiling, said, “We should do that every morning!”

And the man? “All of a sudden,” he writes, “my whole frame of mind started to improve. From that little girl’s example, I started to thank God for all that I did have and stopped majoring in all that I didn’t have. I started to choose gratitude.”

What’s in your heart, and in mine? A while ago, I was headed for a meeting, traveling east on 394. I wasn’t particularly in a hurry and was not running late for anything.

As I took the 494 south exit, I noticed a small car coming up behind me very fast. Then, as I entered 494 south it came right up to me and, flashing its signal lights, it sped into the left lane. In a flash of intuition, I just knew that this driver was going to try and cut in front of me once he or she had passed me.

Sure enough, as the driver came past me, I could see the right blinker on. There was space in between the car in front of me and myself. But, without even being aware of it, I found myself speeding up! I was not going to let that driver in front of me.

That’s when I caught myself and saw what I was doing. I did not like what was in my heart. So, I backed off and said, out loud, in the car, “OK. Come on it.”

What’s in your heart at this time? Even though we have a generous God whose heart could not be quenched, but expressed itself in Jesus, it’s easy for people these days to live with a mindset of scarcity, resentment, and discontent. Often, we focus on what we don’t have instead of on what we do have. We often lift up what’s wrong in the world and fail to celebrate all that’s right.

How would your life and mine be different if we strived to create the attitude of gratitude in our hearts? With a heart of gratitude, we are not only reflecting the heart of God, but we are living our joy.

May all gratitude and joy be yours in believing!