The most valuable things in life are given to us freely and we tend to place little value on them. We take them for granted, fail to be thankful and grateful for them and often misuse them or ignore them. On top of this, we tend to spend our time and effort worrying and grumbling about what we don’t have instead and this is about things that tend to have way less value.
What do we have freely? We have life without which nothing we want would matter. We have a body that is wonderfully and intricately made enabling us to move through the world and to interact with it. For most of us, this means that we can interact through five other free gifts: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. While you are doing all of that, your amazing body is automatically breathing, circulating, moving, processing food, interacting with the world — without you having to consciously think about it. While all of that is happening, you are doing other things.
Our amazing body houses in it an even more awesome and mysterious mind. The proper use of our mind brings us everything we want in life. Unlike all other beasts that operate via instinct, we can think, explore, judge, imagine, envision, plan, synthesize, communicate, learn, feel, create, choose and direct our course through life however we see fit. Our amazing minds let us look at any moment or situation from a number of different vantage points or from all of them at the same time. Who hasn’t had a moment in which a situation seems one way then a completely different way a moment later when some new information is revealed? We’ve all experienced a paradigm shift, yet, few of us have considered that nothing really changed in the situation and we could have chosen to look it from both lenses at anytime. That’s how powerful our mind is, but there’s more. The mind also fuels mysterious things such and intuition, subconscious, and our soul and spirit.
Speaking of our soul and spirit, another free gift to us from God is his son, Jesus, the Christ, the Redeemer who came to teach us what love is and who God is. But he accomplished so much more that is freely given to us. He also sacrificed himself to pay for our sins so that our life can be eternally with God in love instead of eternally without God in despair and torment. And even more than that moment of sacrifice is the mystery of Godliness which means that through the Resurrection of Christ, God made it such that our spirit and soul could also be transformed by the presence of Christ in us, the hope of glory. The is what it means to be reborn. So, besides the gift of physical life, we have a gift of rebirth to external spiritual life in God, because Christ, his son, will dwell in us making God our father just as he was to Jesus.
We have have the gift of natural parents too and while some of us may not have had good parents, still they brought you into life and somehow, through them or others, you were cared for until you could reach the age of maturity and survive on your own — all of which does not always happen, so if it has happened for you, it is free gift.
We have the free gift of our relationships — all the love, passion, camaraderie, fellowship, and partnership in the joys and difficulties of life. For most of us, this highest form of this is with a life partner and the most grateful of pursue committing to via marriage because this is a gift and not a burden. Through this gift, many of us have the extraordinary blessing of children and grandchildren forming a free gift of legacy and love flowing out to time beyond our lives. All this is free to those who recognize it for the gift it is and grab hold of it. Some of us are not blessed to obtain these gifts physically but because other don’t want it or misuse children, there are plenty of options for people to partake of this blessing by loving children who are not loved because their parents couldn’t see on of the most valuable gifts from God.
Another free gift from God is purpose. While many people think work is a curse, this is because they don’t realize they can define their own purpose and spend their time doing what they love and feel great about – work that makes them excited, proud, fulfilled and filled with joy and with relationships taking that journey with them and sharing in the adventure and joy of it.
Another gift many of us in the world have is freedom. This gift is not as guaranteed because there are places in the world where much freedom is restricted so those who have it should be aware of the great gift it is, but frequently are not. Freedom empowers us to explore other free gifts: the free gift of the world, the free gift of reading, learning, and education, the free gift of whatever we want to do with the free gift of time we all have every day. Freedom means we are free not to worry that others can direct our lives or take our lives. It is security from tyranny and enslavement. Freedom breeds another gift, Choice. Even for those whose liberties are restricted, freedom and choice still can liberate their minds in powerful ways.
All of these free gifts, in our persons, are layered on top of free gifts all around us. The world is a free gift to us and all the trillions of wonders in it. These miracles scale down to the fantastic microcosm of cells, atoms, DNA and their many divisions and parts that hold the world together and invisibly operate it and scale up to the macrocosm of the heavens complete with planets and stars within in millions of galaxy within the universe and perhaps beyond. More mysteriously and largely unknown but increasing in evident are how all this may be effected by various dimensions of space and time. But more obvious to us though also taken for granted is the air that we breath, the atmosphere that enables life, the sun and the rotation of the world that keep us warm but not burning up and creates days and seasons, the processes that replenish oxygen, cause food to grow and animals to live, the laws that hold us to the ground and govern order. The large variety of plants and animals that enable us to have diversity in food and culture and can be used for so many other purposes like medicine, work help, companionship, and beauty are all gifts – we could live in a world where there was only one thing to eat. All of this and more does not have to exist but it does and it is a necessary gift to us so that we can live and thrive.
So, all of this is free — and largely, we don’t give it much thought.
What do we think about, worry about, want? Some of these things are necessary like food, clothing and a roof over our head but most are optional, wants versus needs. Even the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter are often pursued gratuitously: better or more convenient (costly) food, designer over functional (costly) clothing, and more luxurious shelter. There is nothing wrong with wanting more – of course we should, but to the extent it is gratuitous, shouldn’t our attitude toward it be that much more grateful about all we’ve been given. Hopefully we are.
Consider this: if you don’t have the things that you want that are not free, perhaps it is largely because they are products. You might remember from elementary school math that a product is the result of multiplying factors, 2×3=6 for instance, and the non-free things we want are similarly products that are derived from other factors. They are the fruit of our labor and therefore the non-free products we possess are largely related our practical application of the free things we’ve all been given. If we use the free things properly, blessing for us are multiplied. If we use them haphazardly, then we operate two steps forward and one step back. And if we use them poorly or destructively, we can destroy our lives and the lives of others around us. A formula for success is Preparedness times Opportunity equals Success. Opportunity is there all the time so our part is to develop Preparedness. The formula for that is Positive Choice multiplied by Free Gifts equal Preparedness.
Given all this, it all comes down to Choice. If we choose to focus our time on phantom wants ignoring the immense treasure we have, we will waste that treasure. If, instead, we choose to focus on developing our free treasures and applying them properly, we will find we have everything we want and more and we will appreciate all our gifts more. As you reap, so you will sow. It’s your choice. This Thanksgiving (and every day moving forward), I hope this will help you be more grateful for all that you have which I am confident will guide you to your hearts content. Jesus says in Matthew 13:12: “For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Realize what you have and invest it gratefully to abundance.