275 | Sunny Side Up

April 28, 2013
Sunday, 4:30 p.m.
Letter #275: Sunny Side Up

 

Dear Family,

I received a letter from a long-time friend this week. (I’m really blessed to have a supportive family and close friends!) A good friend knows just what to say to encourage me, correct me, or give wise advice, or even just to say they’re praying for me. The blessing is that I’m thought of, cared about, or prayed for, when so many here are forgotten, despised, and cursed.

So, the question posed in the letter was, “Do you ever get to feel the sun on your skin?” I LOVE that question! If the answer is “No,” then it at least reminds me of the simple gifts from God that I should remember, thanking Him in retrospect for so many moments I took for granted. If the answer is “Yes,” then it reminds me each time I feel that delicious sunlight on my skin to be grateful for those moments, gifted to me by my all-knowing, all-loving Heavenly Father who cares about me.

The answer, then, either way, focuses me on God. It places me in an “attitude of gratitude,” reminded that “every good and perfect gift is from above.” I’ve seen video footage from other prisons; I’ve been with people who live in a garbage dump; I know many of you who read my letter are going through more trying days than me.

But, man, it feels so good to complain! Now, I’ve never complained about how much time I was given, the food I’m served, or living conditions. But put me in “school” for no apparent reason? I will complain like a champion! When I can clearly see that I am right and someone else is wrong, yet their way prevails—watch out! I don’t just have an excuse to complain: I have a reason! And when I complain, I do so in a professional way. I tell everyone within earshot how right I am, how wrong the other party is, and how it is now negatively affecting me. Then I pray and ask God to kindly take a look at my frustrating circumstance and DO SOMETHING!! This is pouting at its finest.

If I could see the situation from God’s perspective, I’d be dead, so I’m glad I can’t for now. But if I could, I’d see that He is building character in me. (So, technically, He IS doing something.)

And then I walk into the sunlight on my way to lunch or dinner. I walk in beautiful, warm-all-over-my-skin sunlight today on my way to business class. I feel the sun on my skin on my way to the school classes I didn’t want. Every day. And I thank God I can feel the sun. I’m not stuck in a hospital bed. I’m not working in a bunker in a warzone. I’m not in a maximum-security facility. I’m not dead. I’m alive and free to give God praise!

For good measure, God let me read this in my devotional, Jesus Calling: “Let Me teach you thankfulness. Begin by acknowledging that everything—all your possessions and all that you are—belongs to Me. The dawning of each new day is a gift from Me, not to be taken for granted. The earth is vibrantly alive with My blessings, giving vivid testimony to My Presence. If you slow down your pace of life, you can find Me anywhere. Some of My most precious children have been laid aside in sick beds or shut away in prisons. Others have voluntarily learned the discipline of spending time alone with Me. The secret of being thankful is learning to see everything from My perspective. My world is your classroom. My Word is a lamp to your feet and a light for your path.”

You know when you read something and you just know God meant it just for you, just for that moment? Yeah, me too.

It’s embarrassing that I’m learning such basic lessons at this point in my life! I’d rather no one noticed, but it’s funny how sunlight has a way of, well, bringing things to light. Thank God!

Love,

Christopher