Saying a Genuine Thank You

“O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; And we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.” (Psalm 95:1-7, KJV)

July 4, 2015, is a day that will forever be impressed upon my memory. Ironically, on the biggest holiday for our nation, I boarded a plane and left everything and everyone I’d ever known behind to live in Cape Town, South Africa. While I had always dreamed of going to that breathtaking city– and it had taken a year of planning to get there– I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that I had actually made it. It was only after the automatic doors opened and I stepped out of the airport, that I realized exactly what was actually happening. There I was, exhausted and desperate for a shower after an entire 24 hours of travel, when I was greeted by the three, beautiful mountains that make up Cape Town’s city skyline; three mountains that would very quickly become the familiar backdrop to one of the biggest adventures I’ve ever had.

The moment I saw those mountains, memories flooded back to me so fiercely, it made my eyes water. I remembered my kindergarten teacher, Dr. Mac, who traveled the world as a missionary on school breaks, and the stories she told us of the churches and schools she built or the children she shared Jesus with. I remembered the little girl I used to be, sitting at a desk in a green-and-white, plaid school uniform, absolutely riveted by every tale of bravery and promising myself that one day I was going to do the same. I remembered all the prayer and hard work that got me to stand exactly where I was standing.

If you’ve ever had a moment like that– a moment where it seems like every second you’ve ever lived came together to create the very pavement you were standing on– then you know that out of all the vocabulary in the English language, there are only three words that can be found to say. “Thank you, Jesus.”

I probably looked like a fool, but I didn’t care. Little did I know that the next four and a half months would be drenched with those words. I whispered them as I watched the sunrise over the African wilderness from the back of a safari jeep. I choked them out between sobs when my mother popped out of the bathroom at the bed and breakfast I was staying in, a month before I knew I would see her when I returned home. And I prayed them every single time I received an overly-enthusiastic hug from the children I had flown halfway across the world to share Jesus with.

It was exactly two years ago today that I watched those mountains shrink from the backseat of an Uber making its way back to the airport that would take me home. For probably the millionth time, I said thank you to Jesus, a God that has loved me and blessed me beyond any earthly relationship I have ever known. I got to bask in the wonderful knowledge that I had seen a dream fulfilled, and not only that, but I served a God that takes joy in seeing my big, wild dreams come to fruition.

Today also happens to be the one-year mark of a very tumultuous year in my life. One year ago, I was heading to work at a broadcast news studio in New York City, completely unaware that by the end of the day, that job would no longer be mine. Over the next year, I continued to take life’s proverbial punches. I returned to the lowly retail job I had in college for the holiday season while I looked for other work, my family struggled when my cousin’s fiance received a stage four cancer diagnosis, and I dealt with a broken heart when my relationship came to a very sudden close. But while it might seem like my life went from incredibly blessed to incredibly messed in almost no time at all, I still have reasons to thank Jesus.

The job I do have, although it’s not in my desired field, pays my bills and then some. That cancer diagnosis miraculously became a no evidence of disease report after only three months of treatment; a wedding came not long after that. And while my relationship was never destined to last, I still had the distinct privilege of falling in love. Even as I sit here typing this, I find myself making a list too long to share of reasons to praise God for.

So really and truly, when was the last time you bothered to say thank you to Jesus? The phrase may seem like a silly formality, but how many times a day do we take a blessing for granted? The gas in your car, the food in your pantry, the people in your contacts list, the nights you made it home safely: any of these things are reasons to passionately thank God for. He is so ridiculously good to us, and how often do we turn around to give Him the thanks He is due?

My aim is not to make you feel ashamed, not at all. My purpose is to make sure you don’t let this day go by without realizing all your crazy blessings and taking the time to thank the One who constantly provides them. There is no moment that He leaves us to fend for ourselves. Life is not all big, breathless moments. Sometimes, we find ourselves in deep, dark places that seem impossible to bear. But as today’s key verse so beautifully says, the Lord is a good shepherd. He protects and keeps us all with His gentle hand. It may feel like He waits until the last possible second to rescue us, but He always comes through right on time. And for that, he deserves all the praise, all the honor, and all the thanks we have to give.

So here’s your challenge of the day, and it takes less than a minute: Count your blessings, take a deep breath, and breathe these three words: Thank you, Jesus.

You just might feel led to linger in His presence longer than you originally intended.

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