Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Way back when I was a smallish child of six, I wrote my first journal entry.
Translation: “One day, me, Sam, and Mama went to a wedding.”
It was my first wedding to attend, and I was duly impressed (both with the ceremony and, of course, the cake and punch afterwards!) so I apparently thought it an event deserving of record. This morning I got out that first old journal to read, laugh over, and remember. I might share some especially funny entries later, if anyone would like to see them. :-)
I’ve been thinking – for all my years of journaling (my spelling and handwriting have improved just a little, and perhaps I'm more wordy now), how often have I deliberately written careful letters and thoughts for future generations? Am I actively seeking to record God’s providences in my life? Am I keeping a record of my life story to pass on to my children so they can see that God’s faithfulness? And am I seeking to always remember, myself?
I can look at that first journal entry now and be grateful for so much. Attending that wedding was one of many opportunities my mother took to teach me that marriage is wonderful and serious, a promise before God meant to last a lifetime. I’m sure I wore a dress, and I can be thankful that I was always provided with only modest clothes, no matter how young I was. I was six, and that made me remember that I’d already learned to read and started to write (some might look at my scribbling and phonetically-correct spelling and disagree!), and the “One day” beginning showed my early love of stories.
I’ve been reminded again just how surely thankfulness cures misery, boredom, and plain old grumpiness. Not saying a vague and hurried, “Thanks, God, for everything… now, make everything better, please.” Um, nope. Not that I would know that doesn’t work from experience. *cough*
Of course we can be brief in our prayers, and of course when we don’t know specifics of something, God does. But I think He likes us to be specific when we can. And it’s so good for us! I find this in the (to often procrastinated) joy of writing thank-you notes. To write them, to speak of specific things people have done for me, is to remember my blessings and how special people are to me.
And thanking the Lord, especially recording those blessings, is a great way to glorify and delight in Him.
Here, the shepherd-poet David remembers God’s benefits to him:
Who pardons all your iniquities;
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit;
Who crowns you with lovingkindess and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
A truly thankful heart is a delight, because it focuses on what we’ve already been given, on remembering, on pondering God’s faithfulness. Even if it’s only through the clumsy scribbles of a child, our Father is glorified. And though we’re only on earth for part the Great Story, even our frail hands can help in the telling.
(Image: Frodo writing in the Red Book, from The Return of the King)