It happened one morning when my life had sprinted past whatever control I thought I had on anything resembling a schedule. This was during a time when I would cringe if anyone asked me to speak about “balance in life”.
I had showered and slipped from the darkness of my bedroom minutes before. In a hurry. My wife had not moved in the bed and I did not want to wake her. She might ask me something, I knew…
I was late already. On everything. And it was only 5AM. A book release was looming, another manuscript was a month away from deadline, there were a million other things in line that needed my attention, and my family was seeing less and less of me. Much worse, I was seeing less and less of them.
Moments later, I was in my office downstairs. I slammed my fast walk to a sudden stop before I reached my desk. I cringed and my hand flew to my neck. Five seconds, perhaps for six, I dug my fingers into the muscle above my left shoulder. I was already hurting. My neck, my back, my left arm… everything hurt, but usually it took longer in the day to reach this level of pain. “Please Lord. Please,” I whispered and immediately moved to all the papers scattered at my workplace.
My mind raced. I had a The Professional Noticer podcast recording due by noon and I had not yet even written the scripts needed for the funny beginning and ending. WisdomHarbor.com needed me to do a short video that they could use to teach anyone how to juggle in less than five minutes. That one was due at 3 o’clock.
I didn’t look at my computer — I don’t do email before I do my morning time of devotion — but knew I had more than a hundred unread messages. Moving to the chair where my Bible was, I thought, I have a lot of work to do before I can figure out how “behind” I actually am.
I sat down and forced myself to read the day’s devotion. I quickly ran through the Bible verses and closed my eyes. I talked to God — or maybe at Him — for a few minutes. I need answers, I said. I also told him that my pace was increasing, my effectiveness as a husband and father was diminishing before my very eyes, and I had gotten myself into time commitments that seemed about to give me a stroke. Or a heart attack.
Was I having a stroke? I wondered, as I rubbed my own neck. My left arm was aching and numb. But it was always aching and numb. Oh… yeah, I said to God as I attempted to rein in my fears. Hey, ahhh… sorry about that lapse in concentration, Lord.
I tried hard to pay attention. I need answers, Father, I said to Him and noticed how quiet He had become lately. I would say something or ask something… and for some reason, the only message I seemed to get was a weird sense that
I was supposed to be grateful.
I shut my eyes hard and made myself sit in the chair. After all, I remembered, I had decided long ago to wanted to honor the Lord of the Universe with my presence every morning, first thing! I wanted to be certain my time card was punched by devoting at least five minutes in prayer.
The five in prayer, added to the three it took to burn through my devotion, plus the two minutes I gave to Him reading His Holy Word, was the full ten upon which I had somehow settled as the minimum time of meditation required. My choice of scripture that morning was a chapter in the Book of Job, perhaps in the hopes that Jesus, The Holy Spirit, or SOMEBODY UP THERE would recognize the similarities between me and the guy in that Bible story that God the Father SO obviously loved!
And I made myself sit still, eyes remaining shut, for at least thirty seconds of “overtime”. Answers? God? Hellooooo?
I stood and walked to my desk, again with a direction that I should grateful. I AM grateful, I grumbled to myself. I am!
More grateful, the answer came.
Andy, I sensed God saying, You are writing a book about thinking to the foundation of an action or an idea or a goal or a hope. You have helped others achieve incredible results with your explanations of a concept I first explained to you. Now, harness the power of that thought process and go to the bottom of the pool with the concept of being grateful. Learn to express My love to others in ways they have never experienced. In return, I will bless you in areas of your life with results that are beyond anything you might ever imagine.
At least that’s what I thought I heard. I wasn’t sure because What did that mean. Ok, I thought to myself. Thanks for the great answer. I shook my head and scrolled through all the new emails. I was vaguely aware that I hadn’t even asked God’s forgiveness for my sarcastic response to what He’s said.
I saw an email from the contractor I was desperately hoping might be able to make some unexpected, major repairs we needed on the structure of our house. The damage we had found was just one more thing that had veered into what was quickly becoming a massive pile-up in my life.
It was a short email and I was almost afraid to read it. Was he going to get to me, I wondered. Would he even do this? I read,
We are finishing two large projects and that will free up our heavy equipment. We will be complete in that work this week and will begin scheduling the details of the work on your house.
Thanks for your very much appreciated patience,
I reached for the keyboard, click on “reply” and began to type. I intended toss out an acknowledgement that I had received his email. Instead, I wrote for some time. Oddly, my words just seemed to come on their own. I allowed my mind to do what I’d heard in God’s answer — that gentle instruction I had received only moments earlier — and drifted to the bottom of the pool on gratefulness.
Yes, it is still the longest thank you note I have ever written, but the relatively small time investment I made expressing appreciation to another person paid dividends multiple thousands of percent more than I gave. In addition, I began to understand how to go deeper in other areas of my life. The benefits of what I learned continue to increase today.
Below, is the email I sent that day.
Written for Devotionals Daily by Andy Andrews, author of The Bottom of the Pool.
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How is your gratitude being displayed as God’s love toward others today? Is your stress squelching your thanksgiving? Why not think of a way to go deeper today? Who could use the love of the Lord in a way they’ve never experienced before? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily