The horn of plenty–just a woven basket–empty and meaningless unless it is filled. A traditional Thanksgiving symbol of harvest’s bounty, cornucopias have always amazed me–their horn-like shape, open to hold displays of winter squash, pumpkins, multi-colored ears of corn; their cascade of fall colors tumbling out, symbolizing abundance–the horn of plenty running over. Although founded in mythical tradition, ancient civilizations must have felt it important to be grateful for yearly harvests, using the cornucopia to depict their provision. Throughout this Thanksgiving holiday, I spent time wondering how many of us Americans are truly filled with genuine gratitude for our blessings, the bounty that God has bestowed on us. Do we merely count our blessings, keeping them to ourselves? How often do we sincerely share our God-given blessings with others in unselfish ways, or do we display our abundance merely for show?
In my pondering, I have come to the conclusion that we each have a cornucopia yearning to be filled. I know I do. Even if you did not have a physical one sitting on display in your home during this Thanksgiving season, I guarantee you that you have one–it’s your heart. I believe the heart is like a cornucopia because it is only wholesome if it is full with life-flowing blood and God’s precious blessings. At times it may be full to running over; other times it may seem simply hollow. Your heart, like the cornucopia, stores up blessings, hopefully becoming so full that our actions naturally display to others the abundant life that God has given to us. However, even thanking God daily for His provision can become mundane or be reduced to a list mulled over in repetition. Possibly, your invisible cornucopia holds remorseful memories when you took for granted a friend, the house you dreamed of but could not afford, the education you thought would lead to success, the job you hold that no longer brings satisfaction–those guilt-ridden feelings begin to erode the blessings that once seemed so meaningful. Maybe experiencing a season of trial, your heart just feels empty inside–all energy focused on getting through the struggle. Whether your heart is full or empty right now, the Thanksgiving season hopefully reminded us to be grateful. For me, it was a reminder that I fail to recognize all the myriad of blessings that God grants me on a daily basis. That’s because at times I let my heart neglect what really matters, allowing deception to enter and pride to get a stronghold. My once beautiful over-flowing cornucopia can become disheartened, and fragile emotions eat away at any blessings left unacknowledged.
King David, known as a man after God’s own heart, offered a prayer of thanks to God as recorded in I Chronicles 17. While reading this man’s prayer, I realized that even though David failed God many times, this prayer revealed a man who desired a FULL Heart, his cornucopia running over. David got to the heart of the matter right from the beginning in his words to God. He says, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” This statement of humility from a mighty king caught my attention. Who am I to question God? Where would I be or what would my life be without Him? I owe my every breath, my very life to the God of the universe, my Creator. Being honest, I often fail to acknowledge that I am nothing without this sovereign God or to thank Him for the gift of each new day.
Secondly, David’s prayer praised God. “O Lord, there is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you!” God is who He says He is–faithful, loving, trustworthy. His character never changes and His Word is true. If I believe this, then I should proclaim it and give God the honor He deserves, not repetitious, second-hand remarks that do not come from heart-felt words. Then thirdly, recognize God’s blessings. Be specific and let God know what He has done for you. How that must touch Him when we honestly proclaim His goodness in our lives. David believed that his nation of Israel had been redeemed from slavery by God–the only One who performed miracles and drove out the nations that stood in the people’s way. It may seem redundant to let God know what He has done for me, but the act of verbally saying the words offered up in prayer reminds me of the sacrifice that Jesus made for my life–the GRACE offered so freely. Sharing the truths of how rich my life is because of Jesus deserves repeating and also honors God.
David’s prayer of thanks ends with an affirmation–he is committed to do what God has already told him to do. “O Lord, I am your servant; do as you have promised concerning me and my family.” When I accepted God’s GRACE, I committed to His guidance, to His call in my life which changes over time as I have grown spiritually. Maintaining that commitment is not always easy so affirmation on my part needs to be continual. These four aspects of prayer that David models can deepen my spiritual walk and open and renew my heart as I take the focus off me. When my heart becomes closed due to my selfish nature, God’s blessings seem to deplete. On my own, I struggle to keep my heart FULL.
My husband and I have been walking through 2017 LIVING FULL–for us that means embracing ALL that God has for us as His children. In the midst of our busy schedules, we try to take time to share the blessings each day has held for us and to reflect on how God worked in the midst of our lives, even through the trials. Some days are meaningful and I feel so vibrant; other days disappoint and I feel discouraged. I have to admit that my heart is not always full with gratitude because it has become closed–my desires come to the forefront and leave me dissatisfied. I find I am only HEART FULL when my heart is open–when I have acknowledged God and allowed Jesus to fill me with His blessings–those that are many times intangible. David in Psalm 139:1, declared, “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.” God knew David’s heart inside and out. God knows my heart; He knows your heart. Even when our hearts feel empty, God promises to be there for us waiting to refill them with His endless blessings. Our part is to acknowledge Him for who He is and allow Him to cover our weaknesses and mistakes through His GRACE–not on our own merit.
Psalm 139 ends with David pleading with God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts….” Our hearts can be troubled one minute yet joyous the next. Our hearts can become satiated with impurities as the world’s brokenness influences our attitudes and emotions. Our hearts are fragile and fickle. Regardless, God is always waiting for us to receive all He has to offer–filling our hearts with the right fruit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Make sure your heart is open like the cornucopia waiting to be filled, allowing God to lead you along the path toward everlasting life.
God’s greatest gift to us is that He allows us to know HIM–the most copious blessing of life. Our hearts are meant to be FULL and overflowing. What steps can you take allowing God’s GRACE to touch you anew? Our hearts need to respond to God and His blessings, but more, they need to be full of gratitude that tumbles out freely just like the bounty in a cornucopia.
Grateful for you, Kathy