My family recently was invited to go to a friend’s “cabin” in the mountains above Los Angeles. When I heard the word cabin I became hesitant; I associate cabins with sleeping bags, Deet, and dirt. I’m not much of a camping guy, and even less so when it involves kids.
I asked my friend if sleeping bags were needed and he replied, “No, we have all you need.”
I soon learned that this was because cabin was not a good word to describe his place. When my family arrived, we did not see a “cabin” but instead a “shocking mansion.” Sleeping bags were not appropriate here. Butlers yes, tents no.
We tremendously enjoyed our time. The owners were generous. We could use their ski-boats—note the plural—and the entire time there was an experience unlike any we have had.
I tried to tell the owners how thankful we were. They laughed, and shared with us something that initially surprised me.
They said it was normal for families they invite there for the firs time to be incredibly impressed; picture over-the-top thank you notes which make use of calligraphy. The notes would contain effusive praise and remarkable gratitude. Most likely a thesaurus was involved.
And then a few months later, a subtle hint along the lines of… “You don’t think we could possibly, maybe, come by some other time, do you…?”
So the next year they would return, and enjoy it. And the next year a thank-you note would come too, only this time it would likely be a thank-you email.
The following year, the email might be shorter, and possibly ask if the cabin was open on July 4th weekend.
On that fourth year, the house wouldn’t seem as nice was it was the first year. Chipped paint might be noticed. The speed boat seems like its lost a little ummph. “You should get that checked out” they might say. They might make a comment about how they would arrange the kitchen (if they had that kind of money). Its as if the shocking mansion seems to have a bit more flaws the more time you are there.
Doesn’t this capture the nature of our thankfulness? People’s thankfulness tends to diminish through experience. Remember the joy of salvation, and how impressed you were with God, and how lavishly you esteemed him?
But overtime, our tendency is to reduce our thankfulness. We become accustomed to having a relationship with the creator, and lose track of the innumerable blessings we have received. Growing forgetful of what we were like outside of Christ, we gradually take his kindness for granted. That too can even give way to thoughts like, “Well, if I had that kind of power, I might do this a little differently over here…”
We are to fight this human tendency to diminish praise by striving to continually grow closer to the Lord, and more thankful for what he has done for us. We are to come to worship, come to meet with God, and come to a relationship with him (Psalm 95:1, 2, 6). We are to grow ever thankful, constantly guarding our heart against the tendency to downgrade gratefulness (1 Thess 3:9, 1 Tim 4:4).
What about you? Have you seen this tendency in your life? What do you do to combat it?