Something powerful, something healthy, something…RIGHT…happens when we give thanks to God. Expressed gratitude is a kind of “reset button” that puts things back where they should have been all along.
This was driven home to me last week on a hike in the mountains above Los Angeles. I was listening to a new praise song that included this well-known phrase from Psalm 100: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.” I had the distinct sense, as I strolled along the beautiful crest of the San Gabriel Mountains (the pictures are from that hike) that I was entering His gates and had been welcomed into His courts. Thanksgiving and praise just felt…right. I began thanking God for how good He has been to me. At one point I stopped and sang a praise song in a stand of towering pine trees – it was a beautiful natural cathedral, with God’s fingerprints all over it! That memory will stay with me for a while.
It dawned on me that no one else could give to God what I was offering Him in those moments. That’s not always true of our offerings. Other people bring more money to God than I do, and many have far more talent than me to lay at His feet. But no one else can thank God like I can for what He is doing in my life. No one else can respond like I do to the way He cares for me, guides me, forgives me, molds me, stretches me, teaches me. My thanksgiving to Him is unique, and powerful in its uniqueness.
When I praise Him, I am doing something no one else can do as well as I can. And if I don’t thank Him for His goodness to me, no one else will.
The title of this post comes from one of the most poignant moments in the life of Christ, and one that grips me each time I read it in Luke 17. Jesus had just sent ten lepers to the priest to confirm their cleansing, and they were healed along the way. While the other nine hurried off to begin their new life, one of the ten, a Samaritan, turned back, fell at the feet of Christ, and gave Him thanks.
As Jesus received the gratitude of this man, his thoughts turned to the others. He asked a powerful question: “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?”
Where are the nine? I cringe to think of how often I have put Him in a position to ask this about me. “Where is Mike? I’ve shown him My goodness, I’ve died for his sins, I’ve worked patiently and faithfully and graciously in him for over 40 years, I’ve transformed his life for now and forever. Where is he?”
More and more, I want my God to be able to say, “Mike, welcome to My courts. I’m glad that you have entered My gates. What are you grateful for today?” It will be a delight to answer that question – and the best part is, I’ll never run out of responses!