Gratitude is the fuel on which the Christian life is meant to run. I’ve tried quite a few alternative energies to make my personal spiritual life move forward: guilt, hard work, willpower, blind obedience, etc… but these all quickly run out of steam. Only gratitude is an infinitely renewable resource because it comes from God and bounces back up to God.
It’s Gratitude month at ECRC, and I believe that beneath the many reasons we have to give thanks to God is this big one: our little lives are amazingly valuable to God. We matter to God. So much so that he sent his only begotten Son, Jesus, so that we might not perish but have eternal life.
I recently came across a version of the following illustration in a book of short stories by Spanish Author, Eloy Moreno, called Cuentos para Entender El Mundo, or “Stories to Help Understand the World.” The little parable goes like this;
Imagine there was a 6th-grade teacher whose math lesson one day involved removing a 50 dollar bill from his wallet. He pulls on either side of the note. It’s crisp. Ulysses S. Grant’s visage is looking out from it with dignity. Students begin to wonder and whisper, “What is going on?” Then, the teacher casually asks the classroom, “Who would like to have this $50?”
At first, there is only stunned silence. “Is our teacher serious?” A single hand tentatively rises up into the air. A second arm boldly follows and begins to wave. In a flash, all the students follow suit and the room is filled with a chorus of “Pick me, pick me” as dozens of adolescent arms compete for the teacher’s attention.
“Good!” shouts the teacher. “Good to see you’re all awake.” He motions for the class to settle down and, as they do, he begins to fold the bill into smaller and smaller squares. After several folds, the bill is no bigger than a coin. “Who would like the $50 now?” he inquires again. The scene repeats itself. A moment of silence followed by an outbreak of enthusiasm.
The teacher would go on to crumple the bill up, to put a little tear into the corner, to throw the $50 on the ground, to twist it under his heel, even to rudely hurl a few insults at Ulysses S. Grant himself. In each case, he made the same offer, “Who would like to have this $50?”
With each subsequent offer, students would even more enthusiastically raise their hands. In the end, he said, “Many times during our lives, we will be hurt, rejected, torn, left lying on the ground. In those moments, I hope that you will remember our lesson today. Remember that your value never changes for those who really love you. You are wanted. Especially by the One that really loves you. Today’s math is now complete.”
This parable is such a lovely example of the value that God, our Maker and Redeemer, always sees in us. This reality is the foundation for Christian gratitude. God really does love us and values us more than we can imagine. Oh, that we might have such grateful hearts that we begin to see one another in the same way.
– Pastor Gregg