by Allison Dixon
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Several years ago, a young man that I had went to youth camp with as a girl was suddenly and tragically taken from this life. I could take you to the place at my parent’s dining room table where I saw the first post on social media. I had never even spoken to him, but that post took my breath away. A solemn reminder of how precious and fleeting this life is. As I began to think of all that God had blessed me with, I had a gnawing discomfort that I had esteemed those blessings too casually. I tried to remember the last time I was truly thankful for it all, and couldn’t. I wandered out to our front porch, sat down on the steps, and Googled, “How close can you live to Niagara Falls?” I’m weird, I know.
Rapids View Drive is the closest residential street within view of the breathtaking Niagara Falls. The homes on this street literally have an international tourist hotspot sitting in their backyard. What countless multitudes have travelled thousands of miles to experience greets them before they pull out of their driveway. It's as common to them as the morning newspaper.
So here's what I'd love to know about Niagara's next door neighbors- when was the last time they took a picture of those Falls? Or even stopped long enough to give them more than a cursory glance? Chances are, it's been a while.
Could anything so beautiful, so awe-inspiring, so majestic ever really be taken for granted? I'm afraid so.
I'm sure at first, they were wonderstruck, as any of us would be. Up before sunrise just to catch the first lights of daybreak casting their brilliant gleam off the roaring water. Sitting in silence just to soak it all in. Getting inspired to write a book or start an orphanage or some other crazy dream - because looking at something so big makes a person realize that they're living way too small.
But I have no doubt that as time ran its course, something changed. And it wasn't the Falls.
Perspective begins to shift. Is the view still beautiful? Yes. Breathtaking? Not anymore.
Maybe I'm way off here. Maybe those neighbors are still as awestruck today as the first time they experienced Niagara Falls. But I have reason to believe that I'm not. Because it is humanity's frustratingly predictable tendency to lose appreciation for anything that we have constant exposure to.
More often than contempt, familiarity breeds insignificance.
I had to have a reality check here.
Have you experienced complete wonder lately that the Holy Creator cares intimately and personally about the smallest details of who you are and how you feel?
Or can you no longer remember the emotions that flooded your heart the first time you realized that the same One who holds the oceans keeps a record of your tears. If you haven't seen that in a while, you should glance back. It's beautiful.
When was the last time you felt overwhelmed with gratitude at the love and encouragement that God has poured into your life through your spouse, family and friends? Or realized that your inner circle was heaven picked and placed in your path to shoulder your burdens and celebrate your joys? Some were for a season and others remain constant, but each fulfilled a unique purpose. If you haven't stopped lately and realized how much their laughter and random hugs and "I love you" texts have added to your life, it would be worth another look.
Have you forgotten where you would be had God not placed mentors in your life that believed you to be worth their investment? Don't remember the last time you were humbled to tears in gratitude of those who saw in you what no one else did? You've been missing out.
Perhaps today finds you restless and unhappy. Disillusioned and searching. Searching for a more fulfilling job, more supportive friends, more encouraging leaders. Search if you must.
But before you find yourself completely exhausted, why not take a good, hard look at the beauty all around you?
Maybe it isn't new friends or a different job or a change of scenery that you need.
Check to see if there are some people, experiences, or opportunities that you've just forgotten how to truly appreciate.
Take a few moments to reflect back over your life. Consider the One who created it and those who have shaped it. You may be living next door to Niagara.