The Reason Behind 10,000 Reasons: In the Moment

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. ~ Psalm 19:1

Especially in this past week, but always at this time of year, I am awestruck at the beauty of trees. Green leaves attempt to hold firm against an onslaught of bright reds, soft oranges, brilliant yellows, and the deep, nearly purple, leaves. Even on cloudy days the trees stand out in their brilliance, not needing the light of the sun to show off just how beautiful they are. There have been countless times when I have thought to grab my camera in order to take a picture of just how beautiful these trees truly are. The only thing stopping me is that I know better.

Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. ~ Psalm 19:2

My mother gave me my own camera when I was eleven or twelve years old. Before the progression to digital point-push-erase picture-taking, I had to make sure that each picture counted. The scene and subjects were carefully selected. The content mattered. I submitted photographs along with drawings to our local county fair, and I began to look to capture moments at an early age.

More than two decades later, having lived all of my life in Michigan, I have not lost my fascination with the changing of leaves in autumn. I would rather be outside at this time of year than in the summer months because I simply cannot get enough of the color, the ever-changing work of a true Artist.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. ~ Psalm 19: 3, 4a

My sense of wonder for our seasons was renewed earlier this year when our mission group presented a slide show of Michigan-specific photographs to students in Honduras. The photographs showed children playing in leaf piles, forests ablaze in autumn colors, skiers shredding the slopes and much more. Almost every picture created an audible response from the students. One or two students began giving an audible “Wow,” and very soon the entire student body declared “Wow!” as each picture changed.

Wow, indeed.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. ~ Psalm 19:4b, 5

Reflect for a moment on the words of the psalmist that you have read up to this point. I assure you that the person who put those words into recorded history had no digital camera and was not posting photos for the rest of the world to “like.” No, the psalmist could only look and become so filled up with wonder that the words spilled forth in praise.

As recently as last year I took photos of the autumn colors. Every time that I look back on them, I wonder why I took the picture. The photo does it no justice. I have considered investing in a better camera, but I know it will not be the same as walking through a street or trail lined in color. Our technology today strives to make visual representations as lifelike as possible. We all know better. We know that the photo is not the same.

I am convinced that part of the fascination (and obsession) with social media is our futile attempt to capture the moment. We want to capture what we are experiencing and share it with others. It is our attempt to make our moments have value. What we have missed is that the moments have the most value when we are most present in it.

Noticing moments of gratitude and recording them is one step in the process of connecting to our Creator. Yet it is only a step. Much like committing a keyboard’s setup to muscle memory, we need the practice. I could record a moment of gratitude for the autumn colors. I can find Scripture that supports my gratitude for what I am seeing. I could take a photo of the colors and share it with others in an attempt to add the value of others to my moment. But true gratitude comes when I see the beauty, I am in awe of the mystery, and give thanks to the Creator of what I am seeing. Gratitude comes when I remain fully in the moment.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. ~ Psalm 19:14

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The Reason Behind 10,000 Reasons: Beyond Our Control

There is an obvious connection to my less-than-stellar mood over the past few months, and I need to look no farther than my own posts. I began a daily pattern of sharing my reasons for gratitude, my blessings, after reading Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. Three years ago my youngest son had been able to list hundreds of blessings in a classroom exercise based on the same book. Listing 1,000 reasons for joy, for gratitude, shouldn’t be that hard, right?
With patience and daily observation, I made it to 1,000. What an accomplishment! Externally it was an accomplishment, but internally I noted no significant change. Where was the irrepressible joy? Where was the bubbling laughter for every day? Why had my lens not changed? Reaching this emotional and writing plateau left me unsatisfied. The next inspiration came to me while singing along to Matt Redman’s song “10,000 Reasons.” Yes, that was it! I should push the boundaries, go farther than others have, and reach for 10,000.
This time I would add a layer; I would add roots. In order for a blessing to make the list, it would have to qualify with a base that could be found in Scripture. I continued my quest and was pleased to find that so many of the blessings connected to Scripture. Then I sputtered. Then I stopped. What gives?
There were two weeks out of this year when the blessings flowed freely from my fingertips. I could see them all day and in every situation. God’s goodness was apparent. There was only one problem: I cannot afford to be out of the country all the time. When I traveled to Honduras I experienced rich blessings. I saw God’s goodness all over the people, all over my days, all over the country. When I returned to the “comforts” of home, I was strangely unsatisfied. All that I have or may hope to have was failing to help me see God’s goodness.
Why?
Because the wrong person has been in control: me. Or at least I have believed the lie that I am in control. Gratitude has never come from what we can give ourselves. You may appreciate the food on your table, but how grateful are you if you are the one who put it there? If you fix a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner, you may feel blessed, but is it the same as what you feel if someone gives the entire meal to you? How much gratitude do you experience if you expect that there will be no Thanksgiving meal but then someone blesses you beyond what you can repay? Maybe we have been wrong all along; maybe it is better to receive.
In the story of Joseph found in Genesis, Joseph had to manage the the wealth of blessings as well as the stress of famine. In managing the famine, Joseph was first able to collect all of the money the people owned. When the people ran out of money and still needed food, Joseph collected all of their livestock. Once again the food ran out, and Joseph collected all of the people’s land. They had nothing left. And even what they had, the seed they had been given, was expected to be returned to Pharaoh to the tune of 20%. What would you imagine their response to be? They have no money, they have no livestock, they have no land, and they have a 20% tax. Bitter resentment? Anger? Despair? How about gratitude? ““They said, ‘You’ve saved our lives! Master, we’re grateful and glad to be slaves to Pharaoh.'” (Genesis 47:25, MSG)
They were grateful?! They were. You see, sometimes we need to be stripped of what we think we have in order to appreciate what is really there. This is nothing new, but it can be incredibly difficult if you have lived a life that allows you to think that you have made it – you have arrived – and you have provided. Please learn the lesson voluntarily before you are forced to do so: God is in control, and God is good. When you allow yourself to believe that you have provided the good things in your life, you miss out on God’s grace. You have not earned it. You have not deserved it. But God gives anyway.
Take these two things away from this: 1) Count your blessings as those things that you have no control to provide; learn to recognize grace. 2) Give in ways that cannot be repaid. If it is true that we appreciate the blessings we cannot repay, then we ought to share that same opportunity with others. When you receive grace – and know it – you cannot help but share it with others.

10,000 Reasons

The seed for this began when my youngest son’s class at school put into practice the recording of blessings as explored in Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. Others had recommended the book after that, and I began to put it into practice. Yet I was also challenged by Matt Redman’s song “10,000 Reasons,” and I decided not to stop at 1,000. Now that I have reached that mark, I want to shift the focus. I want to not only take note of the blessings, but also note a Scripture or a promise of God that is reflected in the blessing. I want to not only hear the echo and see the reflection, but I want to turn and see the source. Pressing on and in.
*All Scripture passages are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

1064) The sound that a puppy makes when sleeping.
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves. Psalm 127:2

1065) “10,000 Reasons” coming on the radio as the first song I hear.
But The Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. 2 Kings 17:36

1066) Singing “God will lift up your head.”
Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you did when you were his cupbearer. Genesis 40:13

1067) Laughing as someone used their wingspan to measure a distance.
And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone gathered just as much as they needed. Exodus 16:18

1068) The honesty of children.
And he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

1069) My sons creatively constructing magnetic poetry.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16

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10,000 Reasons

The seed for this began when my youngest son’s class at school put into practice the recording of blessings as explored in Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. Others had recommended the book after that, and I began to put it into practice. Yet I was also challenged by Matt Redman’s song “10,000 Reasons,” and I decided not to stop at 1,000. Now that I have reached that mark, I want to shift the focus. I want to not only take note of the blessings, but also note a Scripture or a promise of God that is reflected in the blessing. I want to not only hear the echo and see the reflection, but I want to turn and see the source. Pressing on and in.
*All Scripture passages are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

1059) Rescuing my puppy from danger.
So tell the people of Israel, “I am The Lord. I will throw off the heavy load the Egyptians have put on your shoulders. I will set you free from being slaves to them. I will reach out my arm and save you with mighty acts when I judge Egypt.’” Exodus 6:6 (NIV Reader’s version)

1060) My son choosing to act responsibly.
Moses and Aaron and his sons were to camp to the east of the tabernacle, toward the sunrise, in front of the tent of meeting. They were responsible for the care of the sanctuary on behalf of the Israelites. Anyone else who approached the sanctuary was to be put to death. Numbers 3:38

1061) Communicating with the mother of my children about their successes and challenges.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20

1062) My son enjoying time to play with his friend and expressing gratitude.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. I Chronicles 16:34

1063) An expression of a desire to attend church.
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; Psalm 95:6

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10,000 Reasons

The seed for this began when my youngest son’s class at school put into practice the recording of blessings as explored in Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. Others had recommended the book after that, and I began to put it into practice. Yet I was also challenged by Matt Redman’s song “10,000 Reasons,” and I decided not to stop at 1,000. Now that I have reached that mark, I want to shift the focus. I want to not only take note of the blessings, but also note a Scripture or a promise of God that is reflected in the blessing. I want to not only hear the echo and see the reflection, but I want to turn and see the source. Pressing on and in.
*All Scripture passages are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

1055) A cup of cold water offered to me.
Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land. Proverbs 25:25

1056) God working out the details after I surrender.
Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Genesis 22:13

1057) A phone call that encourages my spirit.
Lord, by such things people live; and my spirit finds life in them too. You restored me to health and let me live. Isaiah 38;16

1058) An invitation for my son to speak.
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Proverbs 1:8

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10,000 Reasons

*The seed for this began when my youngest son’s class at school put into practice the recording of blessings as explored in Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. Others had recommended the book after that, and I began to put it into practice. Yet I was also challenged by Matt Redman’s song “10,000 Reasons,” and I decided not to stop at 1,000. Now that I have reached that mark, I want to shift the focus. I want to not only take note of the blessings, but also note a Scripture or a promise of God that is reflected in the blessing. I want to not only hear the echo and see the reflection, but I want to turn and see the source. Pressing on and in.
*All Scripture passages are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

1040) Receiving words of encouragement and affirmation.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s faithfulness. Hebrews 3:13

1041) Discovering that a need was unexpectedly met.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. I Timothy 6:17

1042) A prayer that is translated on Pentecost.
When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Acts 2:6

1043) The aspirations of graduating students who will follow the Lord’s leading around the world.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19,20

1044) The receiver of a gift – from four years ago – still remembers it, even after I had forgotten.
A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great. Proverbs 18:16

1045) Making a child smile.
Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right. Proverbs 20:11

1046) A child telling me, “I don’t want you to go!”
Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right. Proverbs 20:11

1047) Being able to help because I had been obedient to a prompt.
By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8

1048) Giving water to strangers twice in one day.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.” Mark 9:41

1049) A young man who wants to preach because God has laid it on his heart.
“So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” I Corinthians 14:12

1050) Encouraging words of truth from a friend.
I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. Psalm 119:30

1051) Reading these words: “Thanks for your advice the other day.”
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15

1052) The crisp, clear sounds of birds during a morning walk – a symphony.
I will give thanks to The Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of The Lord Most High. Psalm 7:17

1053) The way that trees reach up to capture the sun.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Luke 19:5

1054) Testimony that brings tears to my eyes.
So do not be ashamed about the testimony of our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in the suffering of the gospel, by the power of God. 2 Timothy 1:8

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10,000 Reasons

*The seed for this began when my youngest son’s class at school put into practice the recording of blessings as explored in Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. Others had recommended the book after that, and I began to put it into practice. Yet I was also challenged by Matt Redman’s song “10,000 Reasons,” and I decided not to stop at 1,000. Now that I have reached that mark, I want to shift the focus. I want to not only take note of the blessings, but also note a Scripture or a promise of God that is reflected in the blessing. I want to not only hear the echo and see the reflection, but I want to turn and see the source. Pressing on and in.
*All Scripture passages are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

1030) Sitting still long enough for the birds to come close.
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:39

1031) Taking the time to exercise.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. I Corinthians 9:24

1032) Gracious colleagues who allow the use of their space.
He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 2 Timothy 1:9

1033) For Sean, who intentionally creates community.
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. Acts 4:32

1034) Conversations that give me glimpses of universal brokenness.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

1035) Seeing Misael and Anna, new friends and neighbors, pass by on their way home.
To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. Mark 12:33

1036) People who know how to filter information for the greater good.
The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

1037) Learning to let go of “the last word.”
Be silent before the Sovereign LORD, for the day of the LORD is near. The LORD has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited. Zephaniah 1:7

1038) Watching God create a masterpiece in the sunset.
But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” Matthew 16:2,3

1039) Being introduced to a new song that sounds familiar.
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. Psalm 47:6

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