I recently took a trip to visit one of my best friends at his school. This particular friend had been asking me to come visit the campus for months- he knew I’d love it. Unfortunately for those plans, I’d been really busy (this blog is actually a good testament to that) and it took a good deal of effort to find time to squeeze in the trip.
I had decided that I was going to get there early because I needed to be back on my own campus to take some photos of an event for an assignment. This required leaving my house at around 7 a.m. This turned into 8 a.m. without too much trouble, but it still seemed way too early for a Saturday morning. I very grumpily got out of bed, tumbled down the steps, and made my way to the car.
He had better appreciate this, grumpy me said. Deep down, I was very much looking forward to the trip, but exhaustion and sickness clouded that over a bit. My ear hurts! I had an ear infection that day. My throat hurts! I had a cold. My arm hurts! Yet another infection. He had best be aware of how much I care about him. I’m making this trip all the way down there (it’s really not that far) and I feel terrible. Not that I don’t want to go. Because I do. But he’d best APPRECIATE!
Usually when I get these grumplestiltskin murmurs going in my head, they don’t last very long because I realize that I sound very petty, very silly, and/or very incorrect. That day was no exception. I thought about it for a minute. Here we are in our senior year of college, and this was the first time I had ever gone to visit his campus. He and some of my other best friends from high school had a tradition of visiting my school each year. Walking around my campus, he has some idea of where I lived each year. And visiting my campus isn’t really even a pleasurable experience for someone who doesn’t like big schools (perhaps 35,000 of us can be overwhelming) or crime alerts, and who isn’t used to a 20-minute walk being considered a “short trip” across campus.
I remembered more. The last time he visited, he’d even brought homemade banana bread. What was I bringing on my trip? Mmm… a multitude of germs and not a whole lot else.
Then I started to wonder- do I ever treat God this way? Do I ever reluctantly set aside money to tithe, or make a difficult but godly decision, or go out of my way to do something kind to someone else and then cross my arms and essentially say, “You’re welcome” to my Savior?
I think my personal worst offense would be reluctantly submitting to some part of His will that was not also part of mine and thinking something along the lines of, “Well, fine. I’ll do this. This is me sticking my neck out for You. This is me doing this. Hope You’re noticing.”
Firstly, what a terrible attitude to have towards anyone, but particularly towards someone who has done so incomprehensibly much for me!! I’m ashamed of my attitude of demanding appreciation from someone that I should have been appreciating for visits and banana bread. Those gifts were treasured, but God has given me so much more than that. He’s given me chance after chance after chance. He’s forgiven me repeatedly. He’s loved me when there was absolutely no reason to do so (example: see the selfish attitude discussed above)- and loved to the extent of dying for me. Dying for me while I was sitting around whining selfishly.
But that’s only one facet of the problem. Moving the spotlight from myself doesn’t just mean not focusing on what I (wrongly) feel I should be receiving, but it also means focusing on what I should be appreciating.
I’ve shared this before, but the pastor at the church that I attend has a saying that our lives are our way of saying back to God, “I love You, too.” When I make the hard choice because it’s what I know from God’s word is His will for me, that shouldn’t be me making a move and then waiting for a thank you. That should be me showing my thank You.
I had a great time at my friend’s campus. I loved it, just as expected, and wound up taking 326 pictures over the course of a five-or-so hour long visit. 326! (Yay for large SD cards and fast cameras!) Most of those photos didn’t even have people in them, and I’m not usually one for nature shots. It was beautiful and so much fun and I had a great time. I’ve got some really good friends. =)
I’ve also got a really good God. Having Him in my life has changed it completely. I see beauty where I wouldn’t, find peace where I couldn’t, and am strengthened to do what I’m too weak to do on my own. I’m so immensely blessed. The very least I can do is to say thank You, to make myself as a “living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” as my act of worship. It’s something that most of the time, I want to do. But I need to keep an eye on these times of weakness and complaining.
It all leads me to this prayer: Oh, Lord, soften my tired heart. Please guide me in the way that You would have me go and forgive my stumbling sin and weakness. Thank You so much for You and the many blessings You’ve already given me and those that are still to come. Please help me to live like I mean that thank You. May Your perfect will be done.
And I’ll just go ahead and say it for my mom: I need to get more sleep.