With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, most of us have been conditioned to be more thankful this time of year; but are we being mindful? Mindfulness is a term we hear a lot about today. Because we hear it associated so closely with psychology and “transcendental” philosophies such as Buddhism, we tend to think of it as a “new age” principle. But, in reality, mindfulness is just this: gratitude.
Mindfulness is basically the art of being thankful for the NOW. It is a principle that teaches we are to live in the present, and appreciate thoughtfully, all the blessings we are enjoying at this very moment. It’s a very comforting sentiment, isn’t it? After all, we can anticipate earthly blessings of the future, but are we promised a future where those blessings will manifest themselves? No. We can worry about those gifts that we have not received yet, but we are worrying for nothing, as the future is out of our control, ultimately.
Also, we can look back and be thankful for the blessings we enjoyed in the past, but can we go back and re-experience them as they happened? No. We can oftentimes be trapped in the past, trying to re-live and recapture a lost moment in time. The NOW is all we truly have, ladies and gentlemen: the past is but a memory and the future isn’t here yet.
We need to be mindful of the things around us, large and small, and give thanks for those blessings, each and every one. Why? Certainly not because I said so, but because God says so. In Deuteronomy 8:11-12 we read:“Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God…”
And again, later in that same chapter, we read: “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.”
God is responsible for all the good things in our lives: past, present and future; and the passage we just read confirms the fact that we are ALL the recipients of God’s blessings. But are we grateful recipients? Are we mindful recipients?
In Luke 17:11-19 we read a story about giving thanks; and it is a story that illustrates how often we forget to be thankful and how we forget to use that thankfulness; it is a story that is often referred to as “the story of the ten lepers”.
“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
The story of the ten lepers shows clearly what is meant by gratitude and mindfulness. Not only was the Samaritan grateful for his restored health, we read he used that gratitude: we see he praised God in a loud voice—sharing the news of this miraculous healing and his gratitude for it with others. This story illustrated that mindfulness can sometimes be a rare commodity. Out of ten men, only one was mindful of what he received from the Lord.
Let’s all remember the everyday blessings we enjoy from the Heavenly Father this Thanksgiving week, and never forget that God blesses us so that we can, in turn, bless each other.
— Paul Seely, November 18, 2012