Radical Gratitude by Ellen Vaughn (Zondervan, 2005) aroused my interest because I would like to be a more grateful person. But I must admit to feeling disappointed with it. It contains much good teaching but I found it quite dull. A couple of times I even forgot I was reading it and picked up other things to read instead. Many of the stories she relates are very dramatic, unique sort of events. For example she told about a family that was affected by the Washington sniper attacks that happened a few years ago. This family was able to rely on their faith in God and come out of it still believing that God is good. On a personal level I found this quite an interesting story because even in Australia there was wide spread media coverage of these attacks. But on a spiritual level I think that when we are in a crisis God allows us to feel His Presence in more powerful ways. For me it is in the every day mundane nature of life where it is hard to be grateful. Some of her other stories I found quite dated and although it is interesting to hear about Christians from years ago I would rather know what God is doing in the lives of His people now.
The one story I did enjoy was just a simple happening when they bought a bird feeder for the garden. They bought a “Yankee Flipper”. In Australia we don’t have squirrels so we don’t have to worry about squirrels pinching seed intend for birds. But I gather the Yankee Flipper is designed to allow birds to land on the perch and feed but when a squirrel tries to do the same his extra weight triggers the motor which caused the perch to spin. Apparently the Yankee Flipper provided much entertainment as the squirrels persisted in trying to obtain the seed even though their efforts only succeeded in sending them flying round the backyard. (I actually suspect this sort of device would be ban in Australia on the basis of cruelty to wildlife!) Anyway the point of the story was the much quoted saying – the definition of insanity is to continue with the same behaviour and expect different results and often we are like the squirrels. I guess I just prefer simple down to earth stories about every day things, in fact, the type that Jesus told.
Dramatic stories are motivating. I mean if someone is able to go through all that (whatever the ‘that’ may be) and still be grateful then I have nothing to complain about. Nevertheless I personally find these stories hard to relate to.