1) I love the fact that I can come to God’s Word and soak. Wherever I am, I can read it, and I can soak; the impurities come to the surface of my mind and I can bid that Christ expel them, and make my mind new. God is immensely gracious through allowing us His Word in book form. How many hours have I sat and been consoled and refreshed by it in my life, simply by humbling myself before it and reading it? Even when I don’t task myself to do an in-depth, rigorous study of what I’m reading (I don’t usually, by the way), God still allows me to find peace and reassurance in his words, just by seeking them and humbling myself before them and reading them. It is enough simply to hear the Master’s voice. When it speaks of Christ’s saving works, there is light and joy. Even when it speaks of wrath, it is comforting: comforting in the way that thunderstorm is when you watch the lightning come down in deadly forks from the safety of shelter, and realise what a serious business it is to be the God of this world, and how much superior to man God is in his power and might. Thank you God for your Word – for all that it declares.
2) Thank you God, also, for family. Family members are capable of bringing each other immense joy and immense damage. But looking at my family this evening, on the occasion of my mum’s birthday dinner, God put a spark of contentment in my heart. How like each other we are. Though I am very much myself, I still see parts of my personality in mum, dad and brother. They’re sometimes good parts and sometimes bad parts, but seeing them gives me a sense of where I come from in worldly terms, and that is a reassuring thing. It was a warm moment this evening when I realised this, and it made me marvel. Thank you, God, for that warmth and that marvelling, and for teaching me to appreciate what stuff I’m made of, and for enabling me to feel affection in that moment for them.
3) Thank you, God, for wine. It can be abused to horrendous ends. It can cause people to do and say all kinds of terrible things. But it gladdens the heart of men. The wine enabled me to unwind enough to entertain my family tonight with Italian language – a party trick, I know. But it was a nice touch. We’ve probably all seen the comical result of alcohol making people less inhibited and more loquacious. But when you have a tendency to over-think things in life that God can take care of, and to agonise disproportionately over the minute details of your personal interactions, it can be a healthy exercise to let go of certain concerns. The wine helped me to forget myself, and to realise that when I manage to forget myself, I can use my gifts with more confidence than when I let myself be hemmed in by weighty concerns about my right and ability to use them, or about what people’s reactions might be, or about what undesired consequences I might land myself with to the peril of all my intentions. Wine can of course cause people to be immensely irresponsible: there are limits. But the two glasses I drank brought me from one extreme to something a little more freeing. My Italian was less halting, and more fluent, when I wasn’t worried about myself and my life. I learned what I was capable of when I stopped worrying. And looking back, I think my family actually enjoyed the diversion after all. Thank you, God, for that. And please help me to forget myself when the time is right and to the extent that is right, without the need for alcohol in future.