Several weeks ago, I was leaving an area hospital and on my way back to the church it was convenient for me to stop by the local warehouse store for some church kitchen supplies. It was nearly lunchtime, so I was able to indulge one of my guilty pleasures and grab a hot dog and soda at the lunch counter in the store. I picked up the supplies, checked out, picked up my lunch, and found a table. I sat by myself, but soon after I started eating a couple found a seat beside me. I overheard the conversation at the table next to mine, but it wasn’t so much of a conversation as it was a one-sided monologue made up of a litany of complaints.
The man complained about the weather, the renovation going on in the store, his lunch, the shape of the parking lot, and how he would have to exit the parking lot to get to the store’s gas pumps. His wife simply sat and listened. I couldn’t get away fast enough.
It occurs to me that there are several ways to approach life in this world. There are different perspectives with which people may choose to view their lives, circumstances, and general place in the world. When I am at my best, I choose to approach life as a blessed, precious child of God, blessed beyond all that I deserve. Some approach life as a victim, and others face the world with a sense of entitlement. For others, luck seems to play a big part in their worldview, and others come across as A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh character Eor, an eternal pessimist who always carry a sense of impending doom. I confess that I am prone to each of these, but at my core I believe that we are all blessed by God beyond all that we deserve.
I have a devotional book that offers me a short thought each day, and on many days at the end of the devotion I jot down a list of things for which I’m grateful that day. It is a simple exercise that sets my world in perspective. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I offer to you a short list of what I am thankful for today:
I am thankful for my wife of almost 21 years,
Who loves unconditionally,
And reminds me not to take myself too seriously.
And still makes date nights something I always look forward to.
I am thankful for my three wonderful daughters.
I am thankful for my May Memorial family.
I am thankful for my parents and my wife’s parents,
That they made us go to church as children—even when it wasn’t fun,
That they sent us to college,
And expected us to take responsibility for ourselves when we became adults and were married.
I am thankful for our home,
That it is warm and safe,
That it faces east so the sun shines in the front windows in the morning,
And that I don’t have to act like a pastor there.
I am thankful that I have all I need and so much more.
I am thankful God gives me things for free that I could never afford…
Like the joy of sitting by a fire in my yard with my family,
And the wonder of a sunset over the ocean on summer vacation.
I am thankful for the people that I have met that I would have never sought out and the things that I have learned from them.
I am thankful for the painful experiences that taught me things I would have never learned without them.
I am thankful for music and people who compose and perform it,
Like Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Doc Watson,
And Vaughan Williams, J.S. Bach, Hubert Parry, and Herbert Howells.
This week leading to Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, and when we stop to consider it just for a moment, aren’t we all blessed? Aren’t we all blessed beyond all that we deserve?