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Thursday, November 25, 2010

on Thanksgiving

            On Sunday, when I was at church, the discussion, given that Thanksgiving was upcoming, was based on Ps. 100.  Specifically, the theme was the question, “What are you thankful for?”  I said a few general things, but the last couple of days, I became more focused on the question.  Possibly, it is due to my recognition that, in my mind, I have been more focused on my complaints about this and that.  I know no one really wants to hear that.  Complaining can be useful to everyone at the right time and place.  The Reformation, most wars for independence, and all social protests are complaints.  Today, the point came to my mind even more, as my body started hurting more and more as the work day went on, and eased off more slowly than usual as I got home and to some degree rested.
            I am appreciative for the freedom we have in the U.S.  I say this fully recognizing that this statement is all too often tied to a superpatriotic rant against perceived (sometimes real) enemies.  A huge portion of standing as a person desiring to live for Jesus in this culture is standing against a wishy-washy status quo.  The trick is how to do so rightly. I appreciate a warm or cool house to live in, warm, clean water, safe medicine to help keep me going—odds are extremely good I wouldn’t be here now without it.  The radio and TV let me know what’s going on in the world around me, and remind me of all kinds of situations I can be thankful not to be in.  Maybe I should be in one of those places, but if so, that would be based on a sin of omission a long time ago.  I can complain about not having a full time job, but I’m not certain I could physically do it if I had it, so I can appreciate having the part time job I do.  If I was busy all the time, as I was for years, I wouldn’t have the time to think about this writing.
            I am thankful that God has allowed me the experiences that I’ve had in my life.  I am totally certain that it has been easier to accept various truth the Holy Spirit has led me into over the years because my paycheck wasn’t tied to clinging to the status quo.  I think back that, when I started college, I thought I would wind up being a teacher and football coach.  Today, I couldn’t picture screaming at people to get them to do their best.  I know that it works in sports, military, and some other things, but it really isn’t my personality.
            I’m thankful for where I’ve been and what I’ve seen.  While in college, during breaks, I traveled to both coasts.  I’ve gotten to duck over the border into Canada (no big deal) and Mexico (bigger deal, given, all of a sudden, I can’t speak to people).  Many people have done far more traveling, but, at this point, all I want is to help one person in the way I can, and when I accomplish that, help another.  I (almost assuredly) won’t be remembered in two generations, but then, neither you nor I can name the top assistants to the great leaders of history, and if you can, you can’t name the food taster.
            I appreciate that I live in a place that rarely gets snow.  I grew up in Michigan, and I remember one Thanksgiving, when I was in college, crawling at 20 mph from campus to my mom and aunt’s house on Thanksgiving morning when the roads were snowy/icy.  Somebody’s got to live in those areas—I did for 40 years—but I’m glad not to anymore.  I don’t care for my beginning not to like it when its hot, as I started to last summer. 
            I give thanks for my family.  There isn’t much—the only close relatives I’m in contact with are my wife, son, and grandson.  Oftentimes, I’m sure I’m less than the most pleasant person to be around, but its not intentional, even though I don’t know how to prove that.  There’s plenty of people sitting around alone, and I’m glad not to be one of them.
            I thank God what He’s done in my life.  I am thankful that the Holy Spirit spoke into my spirit, and I turned my life over to Him when I was about 15.  There’s so many bigger mess ups one can make when one is an adult.  Paul wrote that one is a slave to Jesus and free from sin or vice versa.  Being a slave to sin as an adult can be so much more dangerous.  I am certain that I’ve made many mess ups in hearing His direction over the years, but to still be loved and guided by Him is a thing I’m thankful for.
            When my son was small, he was entertained by a commercial in a children’s program that had a line, “Your father likes lima beans.”  It was funny because I always did like lima beans, unlike my wife and just about anybody else in the family. 
            I know I could go on and on.  While writing this a few minutes ago, Music Choice on cable tv played Matthew West’s “The Motions”.  I know the story about West not knowing for months whether he would be able to sing because of voice box surgery.  I know it gets to be as my body starts working less optimally.  It makes one thankful for everything.  My response to being thankful is “God, how can I use what ever it is I have in me to honor You?”     

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