It’s December 14th. Just 10 days before Christmas.
Can you believe that?
Is December flying by for you?
Well this blog is all about how to slow things down by doing something so simple we often overlook it. But in order to explain what that is, I need to take you on a journey…
I want you to imagine something. Imagine its Christmas morning. You’ve spent the last few months shopping and picking specific gifts for each of your loved ones. And now it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for! Everyone is gathered around the tree. It’s time for your loved ones to open the presents that you bought.
But then something odd begins to happen. Things don’t play out the way you imagined they would.
Imagine if the first person completely ignores what’s under the tree. He acts like the gift you got him isn’t even there. Instead, he is more focused on what’s on TV. Another person opens the gift you purchased but maybe acts like she deserves it. And judging by the reaction of the next person, if you could read her mind she is thinking who she can re-gift what she just unwrapped. 🙂
And none of them acknowledges that their gifts came from you. None of them says “Thank You.”
If that actually happened 10 days from now on Christmas morning, what would you be thinking and feeling?
Here’s the truth… I think we do that to God more than we realize. We either ignore or don’t use the gifts He has given to us or we take for granted how He has blessed us. We forget to say “Thank You” to God for the “big stuff” in our lives but also — and maybe especially — for the “small stuff” that is so easy to overlook.
A woman named Ann Voskamp realized she needed to be more thankful to God. So this is what she did as highlighted in her book One Thousand Gifts: It was a dare, like a love dare of sorts… Could I write a list of a thousand things I love? To name one thousand blessings — one thousand gifts? I grab some paper and title it: Gift List. I begin the list. Not of gifts I want but of gifts I already have.
Ann felt like God prompted to start a list, to write down one thousand things the she should be thankful for. One thousand gifts that God gave her. So she began writing, adding to the list each day.
At first she said it seemed so basic. Almost trivial. But here is what happened… As she continued working on her list, she became more thankful of the things that would be so easy to take for granted.
About a month ago I preached a sermon titled “Disarming Hell Through Thanksgiving” (click HERE to listen to it). One of my Action Steps was to do what Ann did: create a Gift List of things you are thankful for.
I realized when gave that Action Step in my sermon I needed to practice what I was preaching. I needed to create my own Gift List. So since that time I have been compiling my list. And in case you were wondering, it’s nowhere near 1,000 gifts! 🙂
As I have been doing it, I realized the power in what Ann Voskamp did, the power in slowing down and looking around and seeing the “small stuff” that would be easy to look right past. Here are a few items on my Gift List:
- Homemade turkey soup and bread (Nov. 26)
- For a Sabbath Day off (Nov. 27)
- That our minivan broke down in the garage instead of on the side of the road (Dec. 6)
- The conversation and prayer time I had with Kellie this morning at 5am (Nov. 29)
- That we kept the TV off and played Uno, Old Maid, and Perfection instead (Dec. 6)
- For Dillon’s prayer (from the church) that his grandma shared with me (Dec. 13)
Granted, none of those things are earth-shattering revelations. But they are blessings I am thankful for.
As I wrote down each item on my Gift List (and this is very important!) and as I re-read what I wrote down, I became more thankful. And thankfulness is a gift in and of itself, isn’t it?
However, in the process, I received a bonus gift from God. As I wrote my Gift List, the month of December began to slow down for me. Because I was taking time each morning to be still. I was taking time to reflect on the previous day and remember all of the ways God blessed me over the last 24 hours. And I slowed things down even more by going “old school” by getting out a journal and a pen and writing my Gift List by hand.
The graphic attached to this blog says: “It’s only here for a short time. Slow down Christmas, you’re moving to fast.” Creating a Gift List is one way to turn that wish into a reality.
Here’s the good news…. it’s 10 DAYS — not 10 HOURS — before Christmas. Why not start your Gift List today? Maybe even start it before you click off of this blog. Reflect on the last 24 hours and write 10 things each day you are thankful for. And do that for the next 10 days.
May Christmas slow down for you in the process.
***”The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Every year we hear that passage read on Christmas Eve. But what’s the big deal about it? Why does it matter that Jesus is called by that name? For the first couple decades of my life, I thought calling Jesus “Immanuel” was nothing more than a nice-sounding theological truth that made for a beautiful Christmas Carol. But then I was ambushed by God and encountered the reality of what that verse was really saying… and everything changed. Come on December 18th at 10:30am to find out the rest of the story! More info at tevchurch.org***