Gratitude and Grace
I have been reading a book called 'Preparing for Heaven: what Dallas Willard taught me about living, dying and eternal life' by Gary Black. Here is a quote from the conclusion:
At the summation of Dallas’s earthly life, which, of course, came at the culmination of his death, he was thankful, deeply thankful. He taught me that to maintain a perspective of thankfulness through the pains, fears, and losses that death threatens is perhaps the final blessing of experiencing the grace afforded to a life well lived. I’m beginning to realize that gratitude is a product of willfully experiencing and accepting grace. That is why the two words are conjoined. Gratis is the Latin root of “grace.” I’m learning how gratitude is the result of recognizing the grace of God, which allows me to better maintain the proper context and keep an accurate perspective on even the most difficult of life’s circumstances and situations.
But the realization alone hasn’t made it easy to be thankful. Nor is it something that just comes to me or falls on me like gravity. I’m learning to cultivate and consciously embed the habit of gratitude in my heart and mind. I’m also realizing it is a habit deeply threatened in a culture that bombards us with reasons to remain discontented and needy in order that we go about seeking a purchasable cure. To be truly thankful, at peace, and content with the grace of God is to lack for nothing, despite my condition. I’m working on that. And I’m getting better at it, slowly. I’m not what I want to be, but I’m better than I was.
Perhaps a good goal is to think about what my final words will be. Words that come from my heart. Dallas’s last words were “Thank you,” words that proceeded from a heart full of thanks. What I sensed in the moment and believe still today is that he was verbalizing his gratitude to God for his entire life and everything in it: the struggles, triumphs, failures, lessons, insights, and experiences of joy, pain, loss, and sorrow, which for all of us are strung together and joined as the chain of our lives......
...I believe Dallas was grateful for the very essence and totality of his life. Perhaps such a perspective is more easily attained when facing and contemplating the inescapability or inevitability of death. If so, Dallas grabbed that opportunity. May we all live a life in which such realities bring our hearts and minds to praise and adoration of God’s grandeur and majesty so that our final words to God in this life, as we enter the next, are of gratitude, thanksgiving, and overwhelming appreciation for all that God has done for us.
When we express gratitude to someone it is a response to some grace they have provided us - a gift, an act of service, a listening ear etc. In a similar way, as we recognise, name and express gratitude for the good things in our lives, we are recognising how God's grace has been active in our lives. (grace is much more than forgiveness although it wonderfully includes it)
Gratitude and Grace go hand in hand.
We recognize God's Grace and we choose to express Gratitude.
We cultivate Gratitude and we become more attuned to God's Grace.
No wonder the scriptures teach us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18)!