Psalm 100:4 NRSV
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
I have been in the practice of making a daily gratitude list for most of the last 31 years. I started this practice when a 12 Step sponsor directed me to do this early in my recovery and have continued - with some interruptions - from then until now. Some days it is easy to come up with 10 things that I am grateful for, and some days it is a struggle to get past “I woke up clean today.”
Today was one of the really easy days.
Thirty one years ago today I woke up in the rehab to which I had admitted myself the day before. Well, I say woke up, but I had actually sat on my bed most of the night reading the books they had given me. Those two books, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, were my introduction to the Twelve Steps. The Twelve Steps were my introduction to the God that the Psalmist proclaims. That introduction (eventually) led me to return to Church, and then to college and seminary and the ordained ministry. I have heard it said that the Twelve Steps lead to the back door of the Church, and I believe that is true. At least, it was true for me.
Today I am grateful for so many things that I could keep naming them all day long and not reach the end of the list. But the thing I am most grateful for is having come to believe in God the way I understand God today. Unlike the God I was taught about growing up, this God didn’t punish me by making me go through all the bad things, but had to allow me to exercise the gift of free will and then watch as I made one bad choice after another and suffer the consequences of those choices. This God stood ready to embrace me as soon as I was ready to turn toward the right way of living. This God stood ready to forgive the minute I asked to be forgiven. This God loved me no matter what I did, and still does, and always will. And I am so grateful.
Every day I give thanks to God, and praise God’s name. Every day I am grateful for the gifts and blessings God has poured out upon me. But today I am extra grateful, because today is the anniversary of the day I started to let God guide my life, even though I didn’t yet believe.
Loving and forgiving God, I thank you for the gift of life, the gift of recovery, and the gift of coming to believe in you, who is all good and deserving of all my thanks and praise. In the name of Jesus, the Christ. Amen.