Sitting in the sanctuary of Christian Life College, I watched as the choir filed in for the next clinic on “New Worship Songs for 2004.” Kinda curious, kinda hungry and kinda bored, I fiddled with my pen and binder, waiting for the student to finish passing out the class handout that listed all the songs and provided the sheet music (pre-USB/CD/etc, they actually handed out sheet music). I looked through all of them and found a few familiar songs, but the majority of them were foreign to me. The soloist took the mic, the musicians began playing and it appeared the first song about to start.
My ears perked up.
“I speak life, you’re gonna live oh my brother, my sister…”
Honestly, I can’t even remember what other songs we reviewed that day because that is the only one that stuck in my mind. It wasn’t the way the girl sang it, it wasn’t the excellence of the musicians, nor the blend of the choir: it was the lyrics themselves that made an impact.
I. Speak. Life.
To this day, that Donald Lawrence song gives me chills…the power in the words, spoken or sung, and the ultimate power if we can live that statement in our lives and the lives of others, how would things change?
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, my goodness, every social media outlet known to man is exploding with patriotism, politics and persuasions of all sorts, and hard-hitting ideals that you are truly a terrible person if you disagree with someone’s viewpoint. While I in no way want to purposely negate anyone’s opinions on any topic, I have been reminded over the last year of the importance of speaking life into every situation.
This concept of speaking life seems to come to mind during the holidays as my thoughts are turned more towards life than it is even in springtime. For our life, as Christians, began first with the birth of our Savior, over 2000 years ago. Whether or not you believe or agree with the celebration of his birth in December, we must acknowledge the importance of his birth to our spiritual life.
And this year, this year I’ve learned that the true worth of life is only found in gratitude.
Perhaps it’s an odd statement to make on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving – we’ve all just spent 24 hours in gratitude…and yet we want to go buy more. But, because of this, it seems more appropriate than ever to talk about the beginning of life, the beginning of gratitude, and the ability to speak life in dark moments.
As we move from Thanksgiving to Christmas, there is a not-so-subtle shift from the gratitude of November to the materialism of December. Lights become brighter, sales become bigger and all the noise of the holidays increases to deafening heights, surrounding us with MORE. Inciting us to become busier and more frantic with every day approaching December 25th.
But my question would be…does this create an enriched or fuller life? Do any of these things mentioned above lead us to having a life that we will look back on with any sort of joy or interest in reliving?
I think not.
I dubbed this last year the year of “Courageous Honesty” in my own life and boy, I didn’t really know what I was putting myself in for with that title. This last year has been one of the most difficult in my personal life and I look back and can see that the hardest moments, the worst days, were the days when I was feeling least grateful. The days I allowed myself to despair were the days I did not seek gratitude as my companion.
A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.
Depression is a very real clinical problem, and I in no way want to negate that here, but I also want to emphasize that we can make things worse for ourselves by delving into despair with feelings of ingratitude. One of the quickest ways to change that perspective is to start each day by listing five quick things to be grateful for. Even better? Post this publicly on social media or share it with a friend. Not only will you keep yourself accountable through this, you will also encourage others to be more grateful.
I. Speak. Life.
How can you birth words of life in your own spirit? By creating an attitude of gratitude that keeps you appreciating even the smallest things. The intangibles. The hope you have in Christ. The joy you have in His presence. The love of family and friends. Gratitude truly changes everything.
Words of life can only be uttered from a place of deep gratitude, where material possessions and trivial disagreements have been placed aside. Speaking those words comes from a heart of thankfulness for personal life, and spoken outward to others to encourage them.
A full life is a life born of gratitude, with every action coming from a place of real thankfulness for every step of our personal journey. Even in the darkest moments…there is always something to be grateful for!
There is a meme circulating the internet recently and it says this “No one is going to stand up at your funeral and say “She had a really expensive couch and great shoes. Don’t make life about stuff.”
I think we’re all guilty of making life about stuff at some point or another. Personal life. Work life. Church life. This season, let’s allow Thanksgiving to live on – in our hearts, and allow it to pour out of our mouths in words of life over others.
*other resources for a life of gratitude: