Suddenly, while we were singing Matt Redman’s song, “10,000 Reasons” in a Sunday worship service, God whispered into my heart a crazy idea. At the time, I was serving as our church school’s assistant principal and elementary director. During that time, this song was the students’ favorite worship song, and they sang it so fervently that it brought tears to the eyes of all the adults. They especially loved stomping their feet three times at the end of each verse before the words “…10,000 reasons…” were sung.
In January, I had finally begun to read Ann Voskamp’s book and devotional, One Thousand Gifts, which were a gift from the Christmas a year before. The premise of the books were taking what Ann called a “Love Dare” to write down three things each day in a thanks journal. While I was singing “10,000 Reasons” in church that spring, the two titles collided in my mind. I realized that our darling students, though they loved singing the song, they had no idea what it meant.
You know, it’s a difficult feat getting young people to be thankful for what they have these days. With smart phones being purchased for younger and younger children, elaborate birthday parties that compete for excessiveness, and narcissistic social media behavior being the norm, it goes against the grain of our culture to be content and appreciative for what money cannot buy and not constantly seeking more to fill our insatiable desires.
At the next elementary teacher meeting, the crazy idea was pitched and I solicited the help of the teachers as to how we could help the students connect having 10,000 reasons to be thankful. Many ideas were pitched, and all of them were onboard to help students have a more concrete idea of the abstract words in the song. My plan was for the students to come up with 10,000 gifts from God that made their hearts sing by the last chapel of the year.
Deciding that strips of colored construction paper with five things to be thankful for on each strip would be linked together for that final chapel, the teachers took their assignment and encouraged the students to take on the task. The youngest pre-kindergarten students had to dictate to their teachers, while the oldest fifth graders made the most thankful strips.
It came down to the wire as the last chapel date approached. Teachers stapled their classes’ chains together and hung them in their classrooms. Students were learning to spot small things to be thankful for at recess, in their classrooms, and at home. Would there be 10,000 reasons gathered in time?
Anticipation filled the gym as each class of students filed in and took their seats in the bleachers. The revealing of how many “reasons” would come before the final song, their favorite song of the year by popular vote. We worked to staple the chain of links from each class, which eventually wrapped around the gym. Links were tallied and they added up to 13,830 reasons for our hearts to sing a song of thanks to God. Everyone held up a part of the huge rainbow chain and sang to the top of their lungs, “10,000 Reasons” as the close of chapel.
That day, they understood what the song really meant. We don’t need more stuff to be grateful, we just need to look around and see how much we already have to give thanks to our amazingly gracious God. Maybe, just maybe, this may be the secret to living a life that’s fulfilling without trying to fill up our lives with stuff.
This blog post is linked up for #livefreeThursday with Suzanne Eller