Gratitude. That is what I feel today. Gratitude that I am in Bali, Indonesia listening to waves slide silently across the ocean below me making a gentle crashing sound as they meet the rocks and return to sea.

Gratitude as I watch the young Indonesian paddle his canoe across the water toward the shore. What he is doing out there, I do not know. But it is a peaceful journey, at least from my vantage point. But maybe not from his. He appears to be scooping water from his vessel in a hurried fashion. But it doesn’t seem life threatening as he once again picks up his paddle and continues his journey.

  • Maybe life is a little like that journey in the canoe. We paddle along quite happily and once in a while, we take on water that requires a stop and some scooping. But soon we are on our way again. Are you paddling or scooping?

Gratitude as I think about returning home to family, the chill of fall, holiday preparation, and life in northern Indiana. Although I have visited many beautiful and interesting places the last two weeks, I am grateful for where I am planted. Acts 17 reminds me that I am created by God. He determined when and where I live.

For whatever reason, I am where he appointed me to be in both time and place. And for that I am grateful. But there is so much to learn from people appointed to live in other places.

My greatest take-away from Thailand is something our guide told us one day while on a long boat ride through the canals. Many of the people in Thailand are very poor but our guide reminded us that they are happy people because they have so much food. There is fruit, fish, rice, coconut and other natural products readily available. So even though the people do not have many resources, they are happy because they have food.

  • How many times have I been unhappy because my food was not prepared exactly as I wanted it? Or it was too hot or too cold? Or not enough ice in my drink? Have I shown ingratitude about my house or car or clothing? I can be so ungrateful even when surrounded by so much blessing. I Timothy 6:17 says, “Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.” Am I enjoying what God richly provides, like the Thai people, or complaining?

Gratitude overflows within me for Jesus. Acts 17:24-25 says, “God… doesn’t live in man made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He gives life and breath to everything and he satisfies every need.”

Bali is Hindu. Everywhere there are little grass baskets filled with flowers, rice, candy, etc. as a daily offering to god. I am grateful that there is nothing I need to offer to God to appease him or feed him or supply his needs. I know that he has overcome darkness and evil and he reigns in heaven. We all have equal access to God the Father by the Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. (Ephesians 2:17-18) There is no longer any need for sacrifices or offerings to him.

  • Except we have the continual opportunity to offer him our gratitude. Gratitude for Jesus…for healing and wholeness…for joy and hope…for an inheritance in heaven…for unconditional love…for seasons that come and go…for the hard times that help us grow….for periods of rest…for forgiveness…and the ability to forgive.

And the list could go on and on. So today, I am grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to step out of my routine and travel with my husband. Grateful for exposure to cultures unlike my own. Grateful to be with friends I don’t see very often. Grateful that I get to return home to my family to celebrate birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year.

But most of all grateful for Jesus.

Until next time…

May the Lord bless you and protect you.

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

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