I told you earlier that I would share the story of my little wooden beads and how it was that they became a part of my daily Office.
One summer, about ten or fifteen years ago now, I discovered that I had fallen into a pit of lethargies and something that looked almost like … depression! I had never struggled with any lasting depression, and no sorrows had ever been able to side-line me, but something awful was going on. Day after day, and for no reason that I could pinpoint, I just wanted to – quit. Perhaps better said, I didn’t want to do the things that were mine to do, and I didn’t want to try anything new. That alone was unusual! It wasn’t suicidal, and I certainly didn’t want it to be, but it was dark and lonely and a little frightening.
I had tried all the usual things when my heart was troubled, making sure there was no unforgiveness in there, repenting of anything I might have done or failed to do, but nothing seemed to work. My attempts at worship were feeble, at best.
I prayed through that season, sort of, off and on, but mostly I worried and felt agitated and undone. At last, as the weeks rolled by, I cried out to the Lord in a pit of despair, “I know I’m not supposed to be like this. I don’t know what’s going on, but I know this isn’t from You. Help me! What shall I do?” Before that week was up, I heard, read, or encountered this advise, from three different sources … “Spend an hour giving thanks to God.” Now, I don’t know if I’ve heard that advise since (although I’ve given it!), but the third time it came, I knew where it was coming from, and I took paper and pencil, set a timer, went into a bedroom, sat down on the floor, and began.
It was just a list. “I’m thankful for …” and I wrote down, “hot showers,” “my rose bushes,” “the blood of Christ,” “books on my book shelves.” Yes, whatever came to my mind, silly, spiritual, or special, and after half an hour and hundreds of items, I felt like a new woman.
The phone rang. I answered it. When I hung up I said to the Lord, “Thank You! That worked! Thank You! I think I’m all better!” to which I heard the reply … “Go, finish your hour.”
“I will,” I said, “but I may have to repeat a lot of thing.” No matter. I went back into the bedroom and continued, with some repetition and lots of new things, and just as the timer went off …
… like a black cloud, like a fog with weight and gloom in it, something lifted out of my heart, off my shoulders, soared out of the bedroom, through the ceiling, over the rooftop, and sailed away to the west and over the Wichitas.
To this day, I’m not sure where that “thing” came from or what prompted it, but I had this thought, “If an hour of thanksgiving can do what it just did, why don’t I preempt any other occurrences with daily thanksgiving? So, I did. I’ve been giving thanks around my beads ever since.
What I like best is the rightness of it. Every morning when I wake up, my heart is still beating. I did nothing to keep it going, and when it stops, I will be with the Lord. He is Everything. Troubles and sorrows and pain cannot escape His sweetness or His purpose … look how He used a ghastly brush with depression!
Don’t let the prop (the beads) put you off … it makes no difference how you manage to live in gratitude, but it matters that you do. With all the humility I have, may I say to you that when Frank died, depression did not have a fighting chance. That little cloud knocked at the window more than once, but when it did, I ran for my beads and it shivered and fled.
“Good Morning from the International Space Station”
(photograph of a sunrise over the western United States)
astronaut Scott Kelly, public domain, NASA photo