Yesterday I finally stopped being a lazy-bum and got back to saying morning and evening prayer. It was a little rocky to begin with, but good. Last night when I was really tired and my wife had already fallen asleep, I decided to take advantage of the quiet stillness to say evening prayer. I get so tired at night that evening prayer is difficult for me to work in, but last night it happened and I’m so very glad it did.
I didn’t have any paper so I wrote on myself
I read the psalms for last night and almost immediately was struck by this verse from Psalm 37:
“Delight thou in the Lord, and he shall give thee thy heart’s desire.”
It got me thinking immediately about my life and how wonderful it is. I mentally began listing the things that have gone right for me this year. The list was longer than I expected it to be.
- My wonderful wife
- Our beautiful home
- Living near the beach like I have always wanted to do
- My dream job
- Being able to afford basic bills (which I wasn’t able to do last year)
- An extended family who supports both of us
- New friends in Australia
- Did I mention the dream job?
- Living in Australia
- A future
Now, listing off awesome things in your life is actually pretty difficult. Even that list took a lot of thought. As humans we tend to be able to focus on the bad things far more readily than the good. Whether we like it or not, humans are natural pessimists. My mother once read that for every negative comment to your child, it takes five positive ones to make up for it (this was in her parenting how-to-manual phase). Our thoughts about our lives are the same way – bad things are big, but little things are small and easily ignored.
I started thinking about this concept and, knowing that I would forget the next day, wrote the psalm number down on my hand so I would look at it in the morning.
This morning, after saying my prayers, I started thinking about good things again. I’m overwhelmed by the desire to thank God for everything in the room around me. These post-its? I want to thank him for these post-its. Coffee? Yes, I am thankful. The way that my desk isn’t just a spot for clutter but is a real workstation – thank you, God, for giving me that.
It is an overwhelming feeling to look around you and realize that all of this, every little piece of life you have, is a gift. Yes, I have a happy hangover. And my hair of the dog is a little bit more happy and thankfulness. And this song:
You see, I never dreamed that any of this was possible even as short a time as last year. This time last year, I was in a very dark place. In February, people were making me promise them that I wouldn’t kill myself. I ran away from school and work and my home trying to get right, but it didn’t work. I was trapped and alone and I didn’t even try to talk to God which just made everything worse. So how did I get here? A year later with everything going well, how did it happen?
This is where I lose the thread of my life. Because I’m not entirely sure how it happened. I know that I met a wonderful woman who ended up being the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. I know that everything fell into place so seemlessly that it was meant to be. I truly know that all of this had to have been God-given. How else do you meet your soul mate when she lives in Australia and you live in Omaha, Nebraska? It isn’t fate. It’s God.
But why? Why would God do this for me when I was spending so much time ignoring him? I did nothing to deserve it. In the end, that’s kind of the point. Let me tell you one small story to illustrate:
In July, my roommates and I were moving out. I had been holding on to some furniture for an ex-girlfriend who I hadn’t talked to in over a year. I finally got the courage to call her up and tell her that I was moving, so if she wanted her stuff back, she would have to come get it. She did. In the midst of the awkwardness of having your ex-girlfriend take away her stuff, she handed me back the Bible I had loaned to her eons ago.
I didn’t think of it then, but that was an important moment. It was a reminder from God. “Hey, don’t forget Me.” That prayer book has since then traveled with me all over the world. I’m looking at it right now as I write. It is a symbol of why God does anything – to draw us closer to Him. I could not have prayed last year. I was not in a place with myself where that was possible. But God didn’t give up on me. He started changing my life for me and, in the process, gave Himself back to me.
Most of the time, we don’t deserve the good things God gives us. There are even times when we are so far away from God that He has to go searching for us. But God does not give up even when we have given up on ourselves. For me, He changed my life in a short year. For you or someone else who is struggling, He can do the same. I don’t say this to convert you or anyone. This is a reminder to myself that with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. He could even use an ex-girlfriend to change your life. That is truly why I am thankful for everything in my life right now. God gave me a life that I can take joy in and in so doing, He reminded me that my delight is truly in Him.