December 3, 2019
Weekly Reflection – I Am Thankful
At this season of the year, we hear and say a lot about being thankful. Psalms 92:1 reads, “It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord.” So I thought to make a list of things for which I am thankful. I then remember Eph. 5:20, which reads, “Always give thanks for everything.” So the list begins to grow pretty long. I believe that we need to be specific if we are thankful; but I also think that thankfulness is a quality which can be cultivated and developed – that it becomes a pattern woven into the fabric of life.
When I was a child, I had two loving parents, dedicated teachers, friends who cared; but I cannot say that I was thankful – I took it all for granted. There were kind administrators at college who encouraged me and allowed me to sign notes for all my expenses not covered by a half-tuition scholarship, and whatever I could earn working on campus. I appreciated it, but I still had not learned real thankfulness. I believe that I thought it was something that I deserved.
When I married a pretty young lady, tall and slim, almost 21 years of age, I thought that I loved her. After more than 64 years of marriage, I realized how little I truly appreciated her. It was a number of years after marriage that I began to understand what Proverbs, chapter 31, meant, where we read, “A good wife is worth more than precious gems…..she will help him (her husband) all her life.” I was proud of two fine children, but looking back now, I think that I regarded them as a credit to me rather than being thankful to God for them. I got a good job, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was glad, but I cannot say that I was truly thankful. Somehow I felt that I had earned all that.
In the so-called middle-age of life, however, thankfulness began to take on a new dimension for me as I became somewhat more perceptive. I finally begin to understand Paul’s writing in I Cor. 15:10, “But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out such kindness and grace upon me.”
Now, after nearly five score years of life have passed, I look still differently at all I have to be thankful for. And I look in different directions – not only at the big things but at things which I once would have omitted from any list. Thirty years ago n Shakertown near Lexington, Ky. Luree and I heard an old Shaker song titled “Simple Things.” The Shakers wrote all their songs and sang them a cappella.
The words of that song began like this:
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free;
‘Tis the gift to come down, where we ought to be.
They believed in a very simple way of life. They believed that happiness and contentment had nothing to do with bank accounts, wardrobes, and big houses, but were content with a very few simple things for themselves and gave everything else they had to their group. That song ended with these words:
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.
You may have heard the story of the little girl, whose geography class was given an assignment to list the Seven Wonders of the World. While the others were easily listing the things such as the Pyramids of Egypt, The Great Wall of China, The Grand Canyon, etc; the teacher saw that she was still struggling with her list. Going over to the little girl, the teacher saw that her list had only four items: to TOUCH, to TASTE, to HEAR, and to SEE. Hearing the teacher say that she must finish quickly; she hurriedly added, to RUN, to LAUGH, and to LOVE. From where I stand in life today. I can say “Amen!” to those simple things which are wonders, but which we too often take for granted. I do not hear as well as once I did; my eyes have\ problems, I cannot run – but for whatever measure of those simple things that God has allowed me to keep, I am thankful. I am thankful that I often hear the laughter of children; that I can feel the touch of handclasps and hugs from those who greet me; that I can see the wonderful things of God’s creation, and both see and feel the love which is in the hearts of so many of you.
One final item which I must add to my list is my spiritual relationship with God, through Jesus Christ; and the promises which He has made – for I know that He is faithful.
During the filming of the movie, Quo Vadis, the star, Deborah Kerr, was asked if she were not afraid to be put into the arena where lions had been shown attacking Christians, and where a wild bull would be released while she was in there. She replied, “I am not afraid. I have read the script.” She had confidence that the producers would follow the script – that they would not allow the bull to harm her.
In the script which we read, God has made many promises. I call your attention to just one of them, found in Isaiah 43:1-3. God speaks, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, and you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up, the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God and your Savior.” We need not fear or lose hope when we suffer some set-back, for we have read the script – we know the ultimate outcome. “That where I am, there you will be also,” are the words of Jesus. If we didn’t know the outcome, we might despair; but because we have read the script and trust the one behind the script, we can deal with setbacks with hope and with confidence.
In the words of an old song, the author of which suffered a loss far greater than perhaps anyone here: when some of his immediate family drowned in the sinking of the Titanic.
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well! It is well with my soul.
Read more about thankfulness, Thanksgiving – 230 Years Later