Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving. Here are just a few of the things that I'm grateful for today...
  • I'm thankful I have a family. Today I drove some homeless people "home" after our church fed them Thanksgiving dinner. A man named Jim told me his unhappy story of parents he has not seen in years, a sister who doesn't want to have anything to do with him, and a wife who killed herself some years back. There are thousands of people like Jim throughout the world. By contrast, I had parents who provided well for me. My family members genuinely love each other. I have a wife who has loved me well for 31+ years. And I have children who love God and are filling & subduing the earth and using their God-given gifts for his glory. For this I say, "Thank you, Lord."
  • I'm thankful I am healthy. I have a friend in SC whose daughter has breast cancer. A lot of people in my church have to put up with chronic fatigue, bad backs, arthritis, bad hearts, tumors, leftover pain from surgery, and a host of other maladies. By contrast, I played tennis this morning. I'll play racquetball tomorrow. My heart beats irregularly every now and then, but other than that I seem to be in great health (subject to change any moment, of course!). For this I say, "Thank you, Lord."
  • I'm thankful for friends. A lot of people go through life alone. I see a lot of lonely people every day and even at church on Sunday. By contrast, I'm in a small group and we laugh together and share the hard things of life together. I'm in a men's group and we talk about marriage and kids and identity and vocation. I have pastor friends scattered around the country and friends from previous churches with whom I still connect. And at my church I count scores of people as my friends. For this I say, "Thank you, Lord."
  • I'm thankful for America. I could have been born anywhere but here, at anytime in history other than now. But God allowed me to grow up in a place of freedom and in a time of prosperity. Certainly there are spiritual dangers associated with comfort, affluence, and plenty, and America is not perfect. But think of our freedoms - to get an education, to worship, to vote, to dissent, to own property, to earn a living, to travel, to build a business, and many others. For these I say, "Thank you, Lord."
  • I'm thankful for the Bible. There are people groups in the world that don't have the Scriptures in their language. There are countries in the world that do not treasure the Bible, governments that suppress it from getting into the hands of men and women, boys and girls. There are churches in the US that once preached the Bible but now hardly open it. By contrast, I belong to a church and a denomination that sees the Bible as God's inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word. God has seen fit to give me a sound theological education deeply rooted in the Reformed tradition. He has surrounded me with godly men and women who have taught me the ways of God. He has spoken to me over and over from the Bible. And countless people gave their lives so that I could own an English Bible and read it for myself. For this I say, "Thank you, Lord."
  • Most of all, I'm thankful for Jesus. I am a really big sinner. There's an old hymn by Thomas Pollack that pretty well sums up the general state of my heart. I'll quote stanzas 1-4 in full:

We have not known Thee as we ought,
Nor learned Thy wisdom, grace and power;
The things of earth have filled our thought,
And trifles of the passing hour.
Lord, give us light Thy truth to see,
And make us wise in knowing Thee.

We have not feared Thee as we ought,
Nor bowed beneath Thine awful eye,
Nor guarded deed and word and thought,
Remembering that God was nigh.
Lord, give us faith to know Thee near,
And grant the grace of holy fear.

We have not loved Thee as we ought,
Nor cared that we are loved by Thee;
Thy presence we have coldly sought,
And feebly longed Thy face to see.
Lord, give a pure and loving heart
To feel and know the love Thou art.

We have not served Thee as we ought,
Alas, the duties left undone,
The work with little fervor wrought,
The battles lost or scarcely won!
Lord, give the zeal, and give the might,
For Thee to toil, for Thee to fight.

I'm thankful for Jesus because even though all those things are true about me, He traded places with me on the cross. He gave me the benefits of His obedient life and His submissive death. He gave me His righteousness and took on Himself my sin. And because of Jesus, I am forgiven, justified, adopted, sanctified, loved, accepted, treasured, pursued, included, and redeemed. For this I say, "Thank you, God!"

No comments: