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  • Dale Frye

Is thankfulness enough?

KALAMAZOO – As fall approaches, we look in anticipation of the beautiful array of colors, crisp air, and of course, football. There’s also the annual celebration where many of us gather with family and friends to consider and recount the things for which we are grateful. If it continues as currently trending, many of us in Michigan will be thankful for a long-awaited winning season for the Lions.

Like many of you, I was raised to be thankful, to express my gratitude, never taking our many blessings for granted. For me, it was a natural expression of my place in the world. I was not owed anything. Yet, I was blessed with loving parents, great friends, health, and security of a warm home.

As I grew, the “attitude of gratitude” was a defining filter through which I viewed the world. I viewed my thankfulness and gratitude as a means of affirming and valuing others, which in turn fostered humility in my life. I was happy with my resultant world view.

At the age of 16, at a Youth for Christ camp, I was confronted with the person of Jesus for the first time in my life. The presentation of Christ and the evidence put forth was compelling. I determined at that time, “If Jesus really is who He says He is, then I must therefore be who He says I am.” I was a sinner in need of His grace. I received Him that night.

Again, I was grateful for all the people who prayed for me, those who presented Christ, and my buddy who tricked me into going to a Campus Life event in the first place. That’s too long of a story for this time.

Many years have passed since I first gave my life to Christ. He has taken me on a journey that I never anticipated, and it’s been great. I have a wonderful and beautiful wife with the sweetest heart I could ever hope for. I have two awesome children that we adopted from Uganda. They are smart, funny and picking up way too much of my sarcastic humor. So much to be thankful for.

Yet, in recent years I began to notice something I had never before realized. I was lacking worship in my prayer time. For years I had considered gratitude and worship to be synonymous. I thought, by expressing gratitude, that I was also expressing my love for God. My prayer would normally start and end with thanksgiving. That is, of course, a good thing. Yet I was missing something very important.

You see, I realized you can be thankful for and express gratitude to someone you don’t even know. You do not need to love someone to be thankful for them. I thank the server who brought our meal, the uber driver, and the tech support person on the phone. Clearly God is worthy of much more.

Too often, thanksgiving is transactional in nature. This or that was done, I liked it, therefore I am grateful. The server gave me great service. Thank you. Lord. You brought me a new job. Thank you. I have a warm home to sleep in. Thank you, Lord.

I started to notice that my gratitude was too often based upon my approval of the situation or outcome. Again, it was transactional. A hard example was being laid off earlier this year. I wasn’t thankful. I was scared, confused and angry. But isn’t God still good? Yes. Does He still love me more than I could ever imagine? Yep. Does He still desire for me to sit in His presence? For sure.

The big difference between thankfulness and worship is that worship is relational. It is God-focused. When our thankfulness is transactional, it is self-focused. God wants our heart to be in relationship with Him first. He wants our hearts to rejoice in who He is, not solely for what He’s done. It is in relationship with God that our proper worldview is formed, and worship is birthed. Our focus and worship of Jesus should inform our understanding and perception of our circumstances. Only then can we move from a transactional form of thankfulness and gratitude.

It seems crazy, but it took all these years for me to recognize that God desires and is worthy of so much more than just my thankfulness. He wants a heart that delights in who He is, depending on Him alone. I’ve finally learned that true thankfulness produces worship, and true worship will produce thankfulness.



Dale Frye is a Church Planter in Kalamazoo, MI. He is a husband and Father to 2 adopted children from Uganda. Saved at the tail end of the Jesus Movement in Southern California through YFC and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. He has worked in industry leading teams of product designers and developers for nearly 40 years. Now, he is pursuing a new calling into Church Planting.


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