How are you doing with your Lenten commitments so far? I pray that you are experiencing blessed days on your individual Lenten journey. Just being available to let the Lord use you as you live your life is an amazing blessing. He shows up in the most interesting places and times!

It is a great testimony when others can simply look at us and see the joy and peace that resonates from within our being. So many times people go through life with a permanent scowl on their face forewarning anyone not to come near them. They have lost their sense of joy, their sense of excitement and their zeal for life has been diminished to almost nonexistent. That is a sour way to go through life.

Life is to be enjoyed, it is to be relished, and it is to be appreciated. We are to see the good that is before us and not only murmur and complain about the bad that is only temporary in nature. We have much to be grateful for. We have much to give God praise for, but the choice to give praise, to see the good, to bless the Lord lies solely within our hands.

God will not force anyone to give Him thanks for their life. It is a conscious decision that we must make for ourselves. We have to see our abundance, we have to see our blessings, and we have to see how fortunate we are so that we may recognize that our positives greatly outweigh any negatives that may be in our life presently.

No matter how tough a situation may seem right now I encourage you to look past it and see with your eyes of faith. See the good that is in your future, see the abundance that God promises to those who stay in faith, trust that every obstacle serves as a stepping stone to a better and brighter tomorrow.

It is all within our control on how our days will be spent. They will either be spent in joy or in misery, in praise to God or in complaint to the One who has given us life and breath. Let us recognize our faults in focusing on the bad and strive to become better by seeing God’s goodness and recognizing His great love for us. With all that God has created, with all of His marvelous works, the Lord has said that He only loves one thing and that is you and me.

His love is so great that He chooses to forgive us, have mercy upon us, be gracious unto us and give us a second chance even when we know we don’t deserve it. That is a wonderful love that we can never fully understand, but thankfully exists to all those who open their hearts and minds to the Lord Jesus Christ. Be joyful my friends, be filled with Praise and Thanksgiving because God is good, His mercy endures forever and His grace reaches beyond even the greatest sinner.

It reminds me of something writer Steve Goodier wrote:

It was an annual winter tradition. Every year we packed the children into our family car and spent the day at ‘The North Pole at Pike’s Peak,’ a year-round Christmas resort not far away. And each year they took turns on Santa’s lap while we snapped pictures.

This wasn’t any ordinary Santa, either. Maybe it was the real beard. Or maybe it was the twinkle in his eye when he talked to the kids. He came as close to the genuine Santa as anyone I can imagine. The kindly old man worked as Santa Claus at the resort all year round and, for our family at least, he was just about the real thing.

One year, after we finished with pictures, I said to him, “You must really love children.”

“Yes, I do,” he said. “And adults, too. Many adults want to sit with Santa for a picture!”

“Do you really have adults visit Santa?” I asked in amazement.

“Oh, yes,” he replied. “As a matter of fact, one day 14 of the first 20 people who came to visit Santa was adults. All of us have a child inside of us. It’s a terrible thing when you lose that.”

I think I know what he meant. Children are enthusiastic. They’ve not forgotten how to have fun. And they still feel awe and wonder and excitement.

“It’s a terrible thing when you lose that,” he said. I don’t think he meant that we are to be childish and immature – just childlike. There is a difference.

To be childlike is to be fun-loving and ready to get lost in the present. To be childlike is to be more innocent and trusting. Quicker to embrace life and love. To be childlike is to not yet be jaded by the world or too cynical about people. Those who are childlike laugh easily and often. They know there is plenty about this universe they may not understand, and that is okay. In fact, mystery is good. It fills them with awe.

My children eventually grew up and quit visiting Santa. A few years later I learned that he passed away. As it turns out, even an almost-real Santa doesn’t live forever. I had the honor of speaking at his funeral service and remembered him that day as a man who always kept his childlike sense of enthusiasm, love and joy. He was one of the youngest people I knew.

Well, I can only hope I’m that young when I’m that old!

I hope this challenges you to see the good that is in your life and give God thanks for the many blessings that you have been graced with in your life.