Our daughter Kella recently turned 3 and is quite a hoot. A spattering of what she is saying these days:
- Is Jesus in heaven or in my tummy?
- Don’t worry mom and dad.. I won’t color my eyes black. I like them blue.
- Jesus always comes back for me just like you and mommy.
- Judson STOP. That’s MIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!
- Ahhhh Judson.. You’re just so stinking cute.
The dinner table only fuels Kella’s unpredictability. She says things that make us laugh and things that test our patience. And Judson isn't immune. He grunts like a wee little man one second and then throws his food across the kitchen the next. The Vint dinner table is rarely predictable. Except for one thing: our prayers.
Lately, I’ve noticed that we are always thanking God for the good things in our day.. the food, the weather (if it’s good), health, our friends, what we saw God do, Daniel Tiger, Dora, Judson (most days), and friends we got to be with.
Gratefulness to God is a necessary and foundational way to pray. It guards against an entitlement mentality and constantly reminds us of who gives us all things.
And that’s where my concern comes in: God gives us ALL things and allows ALL things to happen to us (Romans 11:36). Good and bad. Comfort and trial. Spring and winter. And we’re not thanking Him for ALL things.. just the good things. If left unchecked, I’m concerned that the Vint family will grow to believe that God is a lot like Amazon Prime - existing to make our life better instantly.
When we don’t acknowledge the junk in our day and process through it, we miss the lessons God is trying to teach us.
And as an American family who has everything we think we need at our fingertips, what we really need is to be weaned from trusting in created glories to trusting in the Glorious Creator. Here are a few ways we are trying to bring ALL things to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6).
- Actually THANK God for more than just good things. Thank Him for the tough things that drive us away from self dependence and get us leaning into Him for dependence.
- Here are a few examples:
- Thanks for showing me through my sickness that you are the creator and sustainer of my body.
- Thanks for that tense conversation I had today. It helps me fear you more than people.
- Thanks for conflict in our family. It’s hard but it’s leading us to resolution.
- Thanks for our internet going out today. It made me realize how addicted I am to it!
- Remind yourself of who God is and pray His character back to Him. Psalms (103, 19, 145, etc.) are a great way to help.
- Here are a few examples:
- A lot has changed recently in our life / God you never change
- Things were chaotic today / God you are on the throne at peace and in order. That calms the chaos in my soul
- I made a stupid decision today / I'm coming back to You, the all wise God, for grace and wisdom on how to move forward.
- I was impatient today / God you are so patient and kind with me. Help me to give that same patience and kindness to others.
- No one wanted to play with me today / God you are a friend I can always count on.
- Talk about God’s justice, truth, wrath, and righteousness just as much as His love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. This helps us bow down before Him and puts us in a posture to receive ALL that we need from Him and not just the some of what we want from Him.
- Pray for people ALL over the world to come know Jesus and to know Him more and more. This helps us realize that God has a heart for ALL people and gets us out of our family bubble.
One of our Vint family rules is that “Circumstances don’t determine our joy.. Jesus does.” Our family circumstances are always changing. Jesus Christ never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." By thanking Him for ALL circumstances, we'll be equipped to weather the storms that are thrown our way. As Charles Spurgeon said, "We'll learn to kiss the waves that throw us against the Rock of Ages."
And sometimes what we consider a bad day, God orchestrates it to be a really good one. From the “worst day” in Jesus’ life came the greatest good that could ever come to humanity. Jesus got what we deserve (wrath and judgment) so that by faith in Him we could get what He deserves (acceptance and righteousness). Our good, wise, and powerful King works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him.
I don’t want my family to miss out on ALL that God is doing.