Grateful Heart

November is here! I always love this season. The leaves have changed, the weather is perfect for jackets, and the thanksgiving season is all around. I love what thanksgiving represents, not the whole pilgrims being murderer’s thing, but the mindset of being thankful for the things in our lives. Family, friends, passions, dreams; all of it have been given to us by a God that loves us. Sometimes, life pushes against this mindset. The enemy attacks, we enter hardship, and find it hard to have joy in our lives. We have blessings, but choose to have bitterness of what we don’t have. We have a choice to make. Do we let what we perceive as failures and setbacks as an excuse to live bitter? Or do we let these propel us into our future? This is something I have been wrestling through; walking through these rough moments that make me question what God’s plan in all of it is. The truth is, and this is a truth for all of us, God has a plan, we just have to trust him with a grateful heart.

I grabbed coffee this past week with one of my dear friends, talking about changes in the seasons and how to protect my heart in all things. He told me to focus on having gratitude about the things that God has done. To focus on the students and kids I’ve impacted and the leaders I have helped develop; these things are opportunities that God has placed in my life to grow me and give me purpose. When we look back at our lives, we need to see where God has brought us from and how much we have grown. In having a grateful heart, we begin to combat the spiritual warfare that is oppressing us, we combat bitterness. I want to take advantage of this idea, especially in this season of thanksgiving. I think about all the moments and stories that have happened to me. From small conversations at the right moment, a chance to serve in a place that needed hope, and an opportunity to positively influence the people around me. We have all had things in our life that have impacted people for years to come, and we have an enemy that wants to rob us of that memory. I want to take a moment today to help all of us capture these memories and be open to moments to make new memories. God has created us with purpose, and because of that, we can have a grateful heart.

Mark a moment with a monument.  

One of my favorite stories in the bible happens after Joshua leads the people of Israel across the Jordan river. It’s a story that has an incredible miracle, but I want to focus on what happens after the crossing. God tells Joshua to make a monument on the other side of the river, as a marker for generations to come, saying that God rescued the people with a powerful miracle. In our lives, we need to mark the moment. We experience great triumphs that our God has orchestrated, yet forget to mark the moment. My wife and I love to mark moments. We take pictures all the time, it’s a part of our lives. For our wedding we both gave each other notebooks to fill with memories we make, because in life great things happen. What happens when you mark a moment, in times or hardship and depression, you can look back at how God helped you cross the Jordan river. A grateful heart helps us re-center on the one who brought us up from our lowest moments and into freedom.

Move into new memories.

In this same moment in scripture, the people don’t simply stay where they are, they keep moving forward. Stepping into the promise that God gave them, they don’t stand where they are. The truth in life is that nothing lasts forever, we are always growing and changing, it’s how we handle this growth that creates new memories. A grateful heart should give you the confidence to take another step, to move forward and know that God’s got you. Don’t try to hold on to the past, enter into a new season of your life that God wants to reveal to you. Life’s too short to be bitter and wish you could go back. You have the ability to walk into the unknown with confidence and trust in your mighty savior. I say this for you, but also for me. It’s not easy, the unknown is like a wide ocean of possibilities, but I need to dive in a discover what lies beneath me. In all of it have a grateful heart, and move into the new memories you will create.

Grateful Heart

I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. The people I’ve met, each with powerful and unique stories. The students and kids I’ve had the chance to create meaningful conversations with. The ministry opportunities I’ve been able to walk into and learn from the good and bad. The relationships that have stuck with me in all seasons. The family I have just started with my wife, and the family that taught me to be who God made me. I’m grateful for the laughter and the tears. I am grateful for the hardships and the blessings. I’m grateful for this blog and the history of stories I have been able to write about these past four years. I’m grateful that my God has never, and will never give up on me.

In this season of thanksgiving, grab your camera and a notebook and take time to mark the moments God has blessed you with, and begin praying for the new memories that you will enter into. Trust God and cling to a grateful heart.

-Joshua Thomas

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