Living in Lancaster County, PA—home of the Amish—we see a lot of buggies around here! So the phrase “don’t put the cart before the horse” calls forth some pretty strong imagery in my mind. Instead of envisioning a horse prancing along the roadside, pulling a buggy behind it, I can vividly see how different it would be if that same horse was trying to push that same buggy down the street. It would be slow-going, impossible to steer, and just downright unproductive!
Psalm 100:4-5 reads,
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
This psalm clearly calls us to a life of thankfulness. But we often put the “what” before the “who.” In other words, we put the cart before the horse. We have a tendency to focus on the what. What can I be thankful for? And if we’re having a particularly bad day, we might have a hard time thinking of any specific things—at all. This psalm, however, reminds us that the reason why we can be thankful—every single day—is because of who God is. “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Our God is Good. Our God is Loving. Our God is Faithful. And because of who he is, we have every reason to give thanks and praise to him—for him—every moment of every day. That means that God is who he says he is, and he’ll do what he says he’ll do. Isn’t that enough?
There’s a “bonus blessing” of focusing on God’s character though. When I focus on giving thanks for who God is, it is liking putting a pair of glasses on. Suddenly, when my concentration is on God’s character, the good and loving acts of his faithfulness begin to come into view. Which means I can now see the what. I see the friend who encourages me in the grocery story. I see the speech pathologist who helps with my son’s stuttering. I see the smile on the face of the special education director when my son with Down syndrome cheerfully greets her with, “Look! It’s the FABULOUS Mrs. Steffy!” And I begin to know God in a deeper way because I am expecting to see him at work in every area of my life. Our God is Good. Our God is Loving. Our God is Faithful. As a result, I find that I have many specific things for which I can be thankful.
So, today, how about “putting the horse before the cart?” Be thankful. First, for who God is. Second, for what he is doing for you: all the ways you see him at work, because you are looking for expressions of his goodness, love and faithfulness. You just might be amazed how much it changes your journey.
Don’t forget to vote for Not Alone in the About.com Readers Choice Awards. You can vote every day until the contest ends March 19th!