(Note: this piece was originally written as a devotional column for my town's local newspaper)
That’s one of the wonderful things about childlike gratitude, though. We adults too often become jaded by life, or familiar enough with the appropriate answers so that we can rattle off the standard list of things we ought to be thankful for—family, friends, food, etc.—without it making much of an impact on us. But kids have a marvelous capacity for wide-eyed wonder, for seeing this incredible world as the gift that it is. They are able to be grateful for the smallest things and the biggest things, all at the same time: for the toy in their hand or the meal set before them (as one son wrote down on his slip, for “glorious food!”), as well as being thankful for the entire universe. It’s not uncommon to find thanksgivings in our jar that relay gratitude for things like our sun, our galaxy, or all the people in the entire world. Indeed, this year there’s a note in there that doesn’t have any words at all on it, just a little drawing of the planet Earth. And always alongside their big-picture awe and wonder is their endless ability to be amazed at the smallest, most everyday things. On their birthdays, we ask our kids what the best part of the past year has been for them, and have often gotten answers like “cheese,” “bugs,” or “this cake!”
It seems to me that this sort of awestruck delight, directed at everything God has given us, is exactly the sort of attitude we should emulate. The universe truly is big with wonder, and we fail to see it only because we have grown too dull in our senses, too caught up with the endless circuit of busyness to stop and drink it all in. We need, at least once in a while, to slow down and remember the truth behind the words of that old Shaker hymn, “Tis a gift to wake and breathe the morning air.” Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:3, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” So as we move toward Thanksgiving this year, I would encourage you to take a few moments to stop and consider the overwhelming goodness of God, displayed around us on every side. The Bible declares that he is the giver of all good gifts, and that he loves to give good things to his children. So come to him in humble gratitude, and let him pour wonder, awe, and delight back into your soul.