November is a month for writers to cultivate a daily habit of working with words, but it’s also a month for cultivating thankfulness. I read Colossians 3:16-17 today, which, in the NIV, uses these phrases: “singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” and “giving thanks to God the Father.” The Message version says, “And cultivate thankfulness.”
When I hear the word ‘cultivate,’ I see fields of chopped off cornstalks or soybean plant rubble. A huge John Deere tractor pulls a cultivator behind it, the sharp blades turning summer-hardened soil into rows of loose, loamy dirt. The unharvested plant stems and leaves are worked into the soil to decay and enrich it. Cultivating is a necessary part of the growth cycle, sometimes done in both fall and spring.
The image seems helpful when thinking about thanksgiving. Being truly grateful doesn’t come easily. It requires focus, a turning inward to see and appreciate the value of a gift. The dictionary says that to cultivate is to improve land, but it also means to improve by study, or to encourage. Cultivating thankfulness is like turning the soil of your mind into a place where growth can happen.
The rest of Colossians 3:16-17 is also rich with fertile truths for this month. “Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing.” I may be stretching the comparison a bit too far, but as part of a vast body of writers, each doing their individual work, all with a common goal, I feel connected to and in step with others.
Granted, it’s only Day 2. Yesterday, Rick Warren, in his Daily Hope devotional, said, “Change in your life requires new thinking.” Is it really possible for me to change from writing a blog post every few months to writing every single day? It’s a mental battle, a mind game for sure! I find encouragement from the next verse in Col. 3: “Let the word of Christ – the Message – have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense.” My goal, when I don’t know what to write about, is simply to let Christ’s words speak. There may be days when I only quote another “Fear not” verse and let it “have the run of the house,” filling my mind with gradual change.
Finally, “And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever – be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”
And so begins a month of writing and also a month of “thanking the Father every step of every day.”