A few years ago, I started a gratitude jar on New Year’s Day. It was similar to a gratitude journal. I had written one thing I was grateful for each day and penned my experience on a small piece of paper. Then, I dropped it in the jar.
Well, each day whether it was morning or night, I would add something to the jar I was grateful for. I didn’t exactly collect 365 pieces of paper by the end of the year but I did manage to fill up the jar at least three quarters of the way.
On New Year’s Eve, I dumped the jar and all the folded pieces of paper scattered across my bed. I began to read all the things that I did or went through the whole year. I had a flood of emotions of how faithful the Lord has been to me. I acknowledged the richness that life has to offer despite the challenges and difficulties. I even forgot some of the events and activities that took place such as the funny moments as well as the unexpected surprises. it gave me a fresh perspective on how to approach life and how to appreciate every moment given to us.
When you shift your perspective, it can transform your attitude. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things as much as the bigger things in my life. When you change your perspective on how you look at your life, you change your world. As the saying goes, “Gratitude is all about your attitude.”
I’m sure we all have something to be grateful for as we finish off the last quarter of this year. Hold onto your faith and keep trusting the Lord for whatever you need in this season. He is faithful.
This evening I went grocery shopping. It was raining when I came out of the store. I had four bags in my hand and did not have the ability to hold an umbrella. There was a lady standing beside me in the lobby. I turned to her and said, “I’m trying to figure out how I will hold my umbrella so I can cross the street without getting drenched.” She quickly offered to carry two of my bags while holding her umbrella over us while we crossed the street. I said kindly, “thank you” as we departed.
It didn’t take long for the bus to come. I jumped on the bus and rode to my connecting stop. It was raining very hard by this time. However, it didn’t take long for the next bus to come. I jumped on the bus and while I sat there I watched two women get on the bus with a plastic poncho. One of the women sat directly in front of me. I was staring at her white hooded poncho as she got off the bus. I never really liked those things, but at this time it really looked nice and I desired to have one.
The temperature had dropped and I was wearing a summer top with leggings. I was uncomfortable, cold and wet. My shoulders were bare and I was very cold from the air condition blowing on my wet skin. I was debating whether I should get off the bus to get one of those plastic ponchos to cover myself.
There were two stops that I passed. I continued to look out the window because I just didn’t want to get off the bus again. I also wasn’t sure if the store would sell them so I decided to take the risk and walk in the rain. How bad could it be to get rained on in the summer anyway? I got off the bus and was waiting to cross the street dreading the 15 minute walk home. In the corner of my eye, I saw a connecting bus that would carry me down the street and drop me exactly a few feet away from my home! Usually that never happens to me! When I got off the bus, a lady got off the bus with me. I turned to her and told her how worried I was about getting caught in the storm but I said, “Where God guides, He provides!” She let me share her umbrella as we walked up the street and we spoke about how good God has been to us. Surprisingly, I only walked about 3 feet in the rain!
When I got home, I thought about my experience and was motivated to share my story. So often we worry about the storms we are going through in life. We are trying to figure out what we should do or how we will do it. We plan our course of direction and we are not prepared when the storm comes our way. We may even see a solution to the problem but it may be out of our reach.
When you walk through the storm, the Lord goes before you and provides protection, provision and favor. He carries you through the storms of life and leads you to your destinations. The timing of God is always perfect. Did you notice in the story how smoothly my connections were made. When God is working, your path opens without resistance and without a struggle. In Him, you may rest. For the good sheppard knows what you are in need of exactly when you need it, so trust Him. When we allow Him to work out our problems, we will be covered through the most heaviest storms of life.
“He that dwells in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the almighty. “Psalms 91
On August 16, 1998, I was helping my friend move to Macon, Georgia to attend Macon State University in the Fall. She rented a moving truck and we started loading her furniture, personal items, etc onto the truck. We stopped at the gas station before we started the long, vigorous moving trip. I was getting a very strange feeling that day before we left the apartment. Our trip was delayed because of a short rainstorm, but the sun came out right about the time we left to pick up the truck.
As my friend pumped the gas into the vehicle, I stood between the gas pump and the truck. I just felt extremely anxious and nervous. I was shaking inside and immediately sat down inside the truck while my friend went to pay for the gas.
As we started on the highway, we smelled something burning. Since it was a hot day, we thought it was the air conditioning unit so my friend turned it off. We played music and talked about her new beginning at Macon State. She mentioned that the truck was not picking up speed and we were going no more than 50 mph.
As we continued to drive, the burning smell grew stronger. Suddenly, we saw a man on the right side of us, waving his arm outside of his car window, flagging us to pull over on the right side of the highway. We crossed over three lanes of traffic, but as we entered the emergency lane my friend was pumping on the brakes and the truck would not slow down. We was going about 50 mph when she decided to slam onto the emergency rail to slow the truck down. We continued to bounce back and forth onto the emergency rail while my friend yelled for me to jump out of the truck. I thought she was crazy. I told her I was not jumping out of the truck.
I immediately looked into the rear view mirror and saw a trail of the blackest smoke that I ever saw in my life. It smothered the entire highway. My instinct told me that I had no choice but to jump. When I opened my door, there were flames shooting from under the truck. I did not expect to see fire. I did not look back to see what my friend was doing, I didn’t think about anything but getting out of the truck. As I jumped, I felt tremendous heat on my legs. It felt like I was moving in slow motion. I somehow landed on my feet and stumbled to catch myself. The truck continued to roll. I felt my friend’s arm hug me as we stood and trembled and cried together.
As the truck rolled, the front area where we sat burst into flames. Suddenly, it started to thunderstorm severely. I stood in the heavy rain screaming and crying. The man who flagged us down pulled his car to the side of the road to help us. There was a woman and child in the car. We sat in silence inside their car as we waited until the fire and emergency unit came on the scene. In the faint distance, I heard the screeching sirens of the ambulance and fire trucks.
As I reflect on this dramatic experience, my eyes still fill with tears. I never knew the man’s name that assisted us. I can’t even remember what he looked like. I never even got the opportunity to thank him. Amazingly, my friend and I did not have a scratch or burn on our bodies. We were not crippled or paralyzed. Nor did we perish on that day. I sometimes reflect on all the things that could of happened and I probably would not be here to even tell you the details of this incident.
The Lord lifted us out of that truck and gave us another chance at life. I never quite looked at life the same after that day. It’s a testimony that I will carry for the rest of my life. I didn’t understand why my life was spared on that Saturday afternoon, but after years of walking with Jesus, I come to realize that this incident was the beginning of my ministry. I’ve had several accounts of testimonies through severe trials, obstacles, tribulations. But through it all, I’m standing in victory. God is faithful.