I’m thankful for the freedom to ask questions

Just ask the animals, and they will teach you.
    Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you.

Job 12:7

I’m wondering what this little chipmunk is asking. I don’t know if he can ask questions or not but if he could ask one I’m guessing it would be this: “When will you shovel the snow off this deck and put out more sunflower seeds?”

I am a questioner. I always have been. During times of my life when people discouraged me from inquiry, I did not stop questioning. I took my questions to God and he answered them. Not always immediately. Sometimes, not for many years. Though I still have many unanswered questions, I have not given up asking. I believe the answers are coming.

  • I am thankful and humbled that God gives me the freedom to ask questions! It’s a part of being human. Children naturally ask questions. What questions did you ask when you were a child? Were questions acceptable? All questions or just some questions? If you’ve been put down or shamed for asking questions, know that God loves to hear your questions. “Ask me,” he says, “and I will tell you remarkable secrets about things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NLT).
  • I feel thankful and overjoyed when God answers my questions! Often, as I am meditating on Scripture, he gives me a new insight and unexpected answer to one of my questions. In response, I write and sing a melody of gratitude.
  • I am thankful for the amazing ways God provides for me. I’ve asked for knowledge, understanding, wisdom, guidance, healing, strength, forgiveness, justice, and mercy, and he’s answered in unexpected ways.
  • I am thankful and awed that God gives me the choice of accepting or rejecting his answers to life’s questions. I can freely choose “life or death, a blessing or a curse”. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
  • I am thankful and amazed, as with patience and love, he reveals to me both the consequences and benefits of accepting his wisdom. He always desires my good, feels grieved when I act foolishly and gives me unnumbered opportunities to change direction. He is patient . . . not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

Today in my country, I wonder if either those who call for “freedom of choice” and those who oppose it really understand what that freedom involves.

No one who demands we comply with their authority without asking questions and/or withholds information which we need and are entitled to displays the character and conduct of Jesus.

If we call ourselves his followers we cannot justify unquestioned compliance and secret-keeping in situations where a knowledge of truth is necessary. Freedom to live according to our own conscience is our God-given right and responsibility. Freedom to judge the conscience of another is not our right.

I hope we will stop fearing questions and continue to respectfully ask them. I pray that we will put aside arrogance and humbly listen to one another, genuinely seeking to understand differing points of view, and doing all that we can to promote unity and peace.

There are plenty of “chipmunks” in our world who are “snowed-under” with needs and hunger. They are not asking for sunflower seeds but for mercy and justice. None of us know it all. Let’s give up our arrogant “right to always be right” and fight for those whose rights have been stripped away.

Gratitude Challenge Day 4

The Lord’s loyal kindness never ceases; his compassions never end.
They are fresh every morning; your faithfulness is abundant! Lamentations 3:22-23

I feel encouraged by all of you who read my gratitude challenge last weekend and responded to it with a “Yes, I’m in” or in some other way acknowledged you were joining the group.

I’ve done previous gratitude challenges but definitely need a refresher. Seasonal affective depression hits me every fall. In the holiday season leading up to Thanksgiving and continuing until the end of the year, grumbling is easier than gratitude. I tend to list my failures rather than count my blessings.

Yesterday, I confess, I practiced quite a bit of grumbling. After sleeping a few hours, I woke up and could not get back to sleep. What can I be thankful for? I asked. I could think of two things.

“Thank you, Jesus, for silence,” I said. “Thank you for being with me. I don’t know the answer to . . . (I shared one overwhelming problem) but you do. I give this to you. Forgive me for grumbling.”

Soon after that, I fell asleep. When I woke up this morning, I knew very clearly what I needed to do about that one problem, that something which has felt like a huge failure. “Thank you, God, for your wisdom!” I prayed.

If like me you’ve already spent a day in this challenge doing more grumbling than expressing gratitude, I hope you will not give up. God is for you, not against you. Know that ” The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Psalm 103:8 NLT).

A Gratitude Challenge

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.
Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
Colossians 3:16 NLT

After knocking over a half-full glass of water as I reached for my eye drops this morning, I could have chosen to complain. Instead, I chose gratitude.  What could I be thankful for?

  • Most of the water landed on the floor instead of my dresser top.
  • Not one drop of water fell into the open container of medication standing on my dresser.
  • When the glass hit the floor, it did not break or even crack.
  • I’m thankful for my generous-hearted sister-in-law who gave me that glass.
  • I can still touch my toes and bend over, so I easily cleaned up the mess.
  • My early morning accident provided an illustration for this blog post.

Gratitude, I’ve discovered, does not begin with feeling thankful. It starts with what I’m thinking. Words that gush out of my mouth flow from the hidden spring of beliefs I’ve stored in my heart.

Like the Psalmist, I want the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart to be pleasing to God. (Psalm 19:14) In order for this to happen, I must pay attention to my thoughts.

Here’s my challenge: In every situation where I’m inclined to grumble or complain, I will write a statement of gratitude. I will share these statements with someone on Thanksgiving Day.

That day is less than two weeks away. My challenge starts now. I hope you will join me.

  • Either electronically or with a pen and paper, write down each situation in which you feel angry, disappointed, sad, or stuck
  • Then, by writing down everything for which you can give thanks, turn it into an opportunity for gratitude.
  • Record any change in your attitude or energy level that results after you’ve done the first two steps.

NOTE: This is not an exercise in perfection. Don’t guilt yourself if you slip up; just get up and start again. Start building or, if you need to, rebuild a habit of gratitude.

 Get in the habit of gratitude;
 Cultivate that attitude.
 Practice it morning, noon, and night;
 Bless God for everything in sight—
 Everything beautiful, everything good;
 Focus not on the ugly, impure or lewd.
  Note everything true and commendable;
  See what has worth and what is expendable.
 Soon your soul will be filled with joy;
 Small imperfections will not annoy
 You anymore; you’ll be gracious
 To all--kind and courageous.
 Get in the habit of gratitude;
 Make it more than a platitude.
 Jane Ault 


Learning to do one thing

The one thing I ask of the Lord—
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections . . .

Psalm 27:4 NLT

The deer in my neighborhood seek one thing: to eat the apples on my neighbor’s tree. In order to get to the tree, they need to cross the road in front of my house. They do not hurry nor (to my knowledge) worry.

They remain in the middle of the road and stare at my car. They model focus and boldness. Characteristics I desire. Characteristics I need if I expect to enjoy the presence of Jesus all the days of my life.

Though my mind wanders and I imperfectly focus, Jesus gently brings this to my attention. He shows me that my heart is never happy when I wander away, trying to do a multitude of tasks at the same time. In his presence, I am totally satisfied and unafraid.

I am learning to do one thing at a time. That thing is to focus on him.

What about you? What or whom are you focusing on today? How satisfied do you feel?

 I am doing just one thing,
 One thing at a time;
 It’s the task that God gives me,
 As I listen to him.
 In the morning, I remember
 To seek consultation;
 I need grace and wisdom
 Because  I’m  his creation.
 I am doing just one thing,
 One thing at a time;
 It’s the task that God gives me,
 As I listen to him.
 I return every hour;
 He reviews my direction
 And shows me quite clearly
 The next best selection
 I am doing just one thing,
 One thing at a time;
 It’s the task that God gives me,
 As I listen to him.
 In the evening, I ask him
 To help me review
 The things that I’ve done—
 Have I followed through?
 Have I done just one thing?
 One thing at a time?
 Was it the task God gave me?
 Or was it just mine?
 I, imperfectly stick to 
 One thing at a time
 God gently corrects me
 When I’m out-of-line
 I am doing just one thing,
 One thing at a time;
 It’s the task that God gives me,
 As I listen to him.
 Nov 2, 2019
 Jane Ault