We often miss the obvious, but when we stop and take notice of the changes, we have but one response – thanksgiving.
I noticed something about them. They had changed, and it was for good.
Something deep had happened in them. Instead of being so caught up in the emotional washing machine swirl of life, there was a kind of steadiness to themselves.
Nothing really had changed much in their circumstances. It was still a struggle. They still had moments of crying out to God for relief, but there was definitely something different about them.
Something had changed down deep, and it was growing a rock solidness in them. I noticed it.
There was an invite for thanksgiving.
When I mentioned it to them, they looked kind of puzzled, but they also knew what I was talking about.
They couldn’t describe it that well other than it was like having a deeper confidence in themselves and who they were. It’s the kind of knowing that you only get by going through a storm and coming out the other side.
It’s an internal change that is now unshakeable—a solidness to their soul.
It was the solidness that they could build out from.
In this noticing, I suggested we give thanks.
Thanksgiving from a leper
One of my favorite Jesus stories is this one.
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him.
Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”
And as they went, they were made clean.
Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.
Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19
This is often taught as a story of thanksgiving.
But something had to happen before the thankfulness came. It was the choice to notice something different.
Great stories swing on a microsecond of change. A pivot point where a choice was made.
In this story, that microsecond happened when the one man in ten noticed he had been healed of his skin disease. The story shifted.
He turned and praised God. Worshipping and thanking Jesus. Thanksgiving.
Can you trace back to a moment that changed everything in your life? A microsecond where the course of your life was altered?
Having minds that are like ‘Velcro for the bad and Teflon for good,’ it is so easy to spiral to a negative moment. But, we hold on to it because the brain likes to keep us safe.
We never want that to happen again, so we keep cleaning the warning signs near the cliff face.
But there will also be moments of goodness—healing moments where something seemed to click into place.
Stopping to take notice
What are you giving attention to? Where does your focus go?
For nine of the men, it was the journey to get the medical approval of a priest (Leviticus 13-14). Their eyes and their attention were on getting to the priest to have a health certificate issued. A passport back into society. That was the end goal—the healing of the disease and a return to acceptability.
I wonder if any of them noticed that they were healed. The desire to get the approval was so great they kept on running. The healing was the first thing. A relationship with the healer was second.
They got second things but missed out on the first.
Put first things first, and we get second things thrown in:
put second things first, and we lose both first and second things. C.S. Lewis
In our desire for a better life, we so often skip over the goodness of the life-giver. Those little gifts, given to us every day that point us to a first thing.
Getting a second helping
He got double Jesus.
While the other nine raced off to the local priest, the man turned to give worship and had another opportunity to look into the eyes of Jesus. Double experience. Double blessing.
It was like going back for a second helping of that delicious dessert. You got a taste the first time, but now you want more, and this time you’re going to savor every delightful quarter teaspoon.
You sit and gaze and delight. An equal gaze of delight is returned. You’re in love, and the healing has become a second thing to the relationship you’re soaking yourself in.
Everything else fades away.
Are you ready for love?
Being the one in ten
It’s in the noticing of our pain.
What is the pain demanding our attention to do?
- Heal my marriage
- Sort out my kids
- Fix my spouse
- Make my life easier
- Take away my cancer
All reasonable desires. All prayers where we cry out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
I have my own list. It’s long. I cry out to the Christ to heal and change.
But it’s when I stop and notice the small and good that the only legitimate response is to fall prostrate in worship. To go back for a second helping.
It becomes a habit of trained observation of noticing the small and good.
Something grows deep in the belly—an unshakable awareness of being held and loved.
Life hurts, but love holds me strong.
Thanksgiving grows out of an awareness of being deeply known.
Quotes to consider
- The most beautiful of altars is the soul of an unhappy creature consoled and thanking God. Victor Hugo Les Misérables
- The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.
- We cannot attain the presence of God. We’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness Richard Rohr
- The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones. [This] shades “implicit memory” – your underlying expectations, beliefs, action strategies, and mood – in an increasingly negative direction. Rick Hanson
Questions to answer
- What do you most want? First things, second things.
- If you were standing as an observer of this Jesus story, what do you think would grab your attention? What would you notice?
- What is waiting for you to take notice of, and that would cause you to pivot and give thanks?