Earlier in this week a friend and I were having a discussion that came from a post she made on Facebook. She had posted a cute pic with a saying that basically was “grace isn’t just a short prayer before dinner.” It caused quite a stir among her friends. Oddly, our conversation wasn’t about the theological concept or amazing experience of grace but about praying before meals. She was really clear that she felt it was just a public show, whereas I shared that for me it meant more. It has always been about knowing I needed to be grateful for the blessing of another meal, for being thankful that I have never really had to go without or wonder when I would eat next. It has also been about being committed to saying thanks no matter where, no matter when. We waded through our mutual frustration with those who bow and pray loud to draw attention (The whole discussion started because we were translating the passage from Matthew’s sermon on the mount of praying in secret.) and finally came to agreement that conviction and commitment, matters of the heart, were what really counted.
So it caused me no small amount of giggling at myself this morning at breakfast when I quickly nabbed a forkful of fried potatoes off my husband’s plate before we said grace. I had shoved the decadent bite into my mouth and was ohing and ahing while he just sat there in disbelief. As I recovered from my reverie I was immediately aware that I acted like a greedy child, accepting the gift without saying thanks. The potatoes went down hard. My husband reached for my hand and I bowed my head and without hesitation thanked God for the amazingly wonderful potatoes, and the special blessing of having time to enjoy the company of my husband on an early Saturday morning. I asked Him to bless the bounty and make our witness a blessing unto Him. Fortunately, my childish haste and afterthought of a prayer did not ruin the rest of the meal.
Someone once asked me to consider my life and what it would be liked if God removed all the things I failed to thank Him for. I didn’t even care for the possibility. Two things became the outcomes of this exercise in awareness. First, I was overcome with how blessed I am. If I truly sat to count my blessings nothing else would be accomplished in my day. Second, I don’t take those blessings for granted. I live gratefully. Paul’s words to the Philippians resonate in my the depths of my heart: I know what it is like to have much and I know what it’s like to have everything taken away (thankfully only temporarily) and I have learned and continue to learn how to be content no matter what situation I find myself in (see Philippians 4:10-11ish).
One of the special people I have connected with online (and look forward to meeting in person someday) has been writing a daily gratitude. I came three days late to the process, but have been enjoying verbalizing a gratitude each day. (I’ve been posting these on my twitter feed.) Today I am thankful for the ability to enjoy good food. When I think over the amazing meals that I have had through my life, I am just overcome with how blessed I truly am. I love yummy food. And God has gifted people to bless me and my palate. I grew up in household where meals were plain, simple, literally out of a box, and repeated often. There were no baked goods, unless we were at a grandmas’ house. It wasn’t until I got married that my cheftastic husband opened the culinary world to me and for nearly 33 years I have revelled in it!
I’m glad God knows I’m abundantly thankful, but I don’t ever want to take that for granted. I’ll try not to be greedy, but I can’t promise that there won’t be anymore prayers that thank Him right in the middle of that first fantastic bite. How about you? How’s your grateful meter reading today?