Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise: give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100).
Psalm 100 has often been the proof-text for the idea that when we want to come into the presence of God in a particular way (because in one way we are always in his presence and being indwelt by is presence) that the key is thankfulness. Throughout the centuries theologians, mystics & people who have gotten close to Jesus have recognised this to be very clear. Thomas Merton in Thoughts on Solitude says that 'Gratitude (or thankfulness) is the heart of the Christian life" because to be thankful is recognise God's love permeating all things. When we recognise God's love and goodness we 'choose-in' to the fact that he is present - we acknowledge him.
As we do this we undergo a reorientation, a recalibration. We chose in to acknowledging the source of whatever it is we're thankful about - the one who made all things good (see Genesis 1). In recognising him we also re-recognise ourselves as the ones made in his image; the ones called to share in who he is. As we remember we are re-membered. This switch flicked in the mind kick-starts us into stewarding goodness (see Genesis 2), reclaiming the place of worship-leader over the whole of creation - to live and act in such a way that all we touch and all we give our time to ends up reflecting God's beauty and giving him glory all over again. Imagine you've just walked into a party and mingled a bit, but it's only once we've greeted the host you can really feel at home. It's then that you start to really enjoy the shin-dig and begin to bless others with your presence, all sharing together in the environment created by the host.
If you want your home to be a place where God is present and your family are a people who ooze the fruits of the spirit - then get thankful! Do whatever it takes to cultivate a culture of thanks! This isn't just something set aside times of prayer but a full-on lifestyle. Remember, you can't create a culture of thankfulness to God without also being thankful to one another and vice versa just as we cannot love God without loving one another and vice versa. Here are some things to try out in the home today:
Say thank you to each other for the tiniest things (dishes washed, shoes put away, a smile)
Thank God before a meal - for the food/the cook/for time together/for Jesus' death on the cross & more
Leave notes of thanks in the kids lunch box for how they've blessed you that morning
Write thank you cards to friends and relatives who bought you gifts for a birthday/Christmas etc
Create an interactive art piece that comes alive as thanks is given (see our hallway thankfulness tree)
Sing songs of thanks as you hoover (thank God that you have a hoover!)
When it rains, go outside and dance in it! Thank God that he sends rain to water the fields
Give something you hold dear away - thank God for your time with it & the opportunity to bless someone else with it
Use the comments box below to add more ideas of how we can learn to cultivate thankfulness in the home - put some of these in to practise and then share your experience in a comment too!
On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence. Know this: God is God, and God, God. He made us; we didn’t make him. We’re his people, his well-tended sheep. Enter with the password: “Thank you!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him. For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever. (Psalm 100 - The Message Idiomatic Translation)