Truly

Standard

The turkey was eaten. The stuffing was awesome. The green-bean casserole, mashed potatoes, collard-greens and baked beans all went down easy, fulfilling my vegetable requirement. The old home movies took center stage, invoking laughs and cherished memories. And…my Lions lost another Thanksgiving game. By all accounts, another successful holiday celebration has come and gone. And now, many are already out braving the chaos of the annual Black (Thursday) Friday shopping experience.

At the day’s end, I’m comfy in my plaid pajamas, Marvel T-shirt and Nike flip-flops typing away at the keyboard. My wife is tucked away sleeping peacefully, in preparation for another day’s work. It’s the first time today that I’ve taken a serious moment to think about what I’m truly thankful for.

  1. I’m thankful for the last 10 years of marriage to my Misty. A decade ago, we were both far from God and on the brink of divorce. John 6:44 (NKJV) says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” I really do believe the Lord drew us both into Himself. I see so many of my own friends struggling through tough marriages, and often forget what a blessing it was for God to not only grab hold of one of us; but both at the same time. 
  2. I’m thankful for God’s mercy and grace. I came from a good family and never had to want for anything, because my parents worked hard and sacrificed for their three children. But, in my young-adult years, I made poor decisions that could have easily landed me in jail or the grave. I realize God always had a hand on my life. He’s always been watching over me. The bible teaches that even though I never knew Him, and blatantly disrespected Him, Jesus willing went to the cross and died…for me personally. He did it because He loves me more than I can ever fully comprehend.
  3.  I’m thankful for my dad. Gathering at 4269 12th Street has been a tradition for the Smith family. Over the years, we’ve lost family members: cousins, aunts, uncles, my mom. But my dad keeps the tradition alive. At the end of tonight’s celebration, my wife and I washed dishes at my Dad’s house. She searched for a drying-towel to wipe and store the clean dishes. Without thinking, I instinctively made my way to a hall closet where the towels were stored; just as they were when I was a kid. In that moment, I realized how much I loved my Dad and the house I grew up in. I haven’t lived there in years, but the important things are still right where I know to find them. Relatives thanked Misty and I for cleaning the kitchen, but it really took me back to a time long forgotten; a time when it was my job to wash dishes in that house. It didn’t seem like such a special job tonight. The fifth commandment teaches us to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
  4. I’m thankful for our children. Throughout the celebration, I watched my children eat, laugh and even dance with their extended Smith family. One day, their grandfather will be gone. The house on 12th Street may be different without him. But for now, they enjoy the family get-together celebrations. They love their Poppa, and it shows. I’m blessed to have them. I’m blessed to have my dad be a part of their lives. I’m blessed to be able to watch them grow day by day and year by year.

My marriage, God’s grace & mercy, my dad and my children. Tonight, these are the most important aspects of life…for me.

 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, friends.

 

 

*always*

Thankful In All Things

Standard

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) – “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Verse 16 tells us to “be joyful always”: not easy to do, but the joy of the Lord conquers the toughest of trials, if we allow ourselves to trust in him.

Verse 17 tells us to “pray continually”: we’re not talking about constant, deep, time consuming prayers that would eventually impede on your daily life tasks. I think what Paul is talking about is developing a heart and attitude of prayer, where you constantly speak with the Lord throughout the day. Anything from small desires to dire needs can be addressed when we have an attitude of prayer throughout the day. There doesn’t need to be a specified time.

Verse 18 says give thanks in all circumstances. My bible notes make it clear that evil does not come from God. As I said last night, we live in an imperfect world. Evil is everywhere. But, I believe we need to thank God even while we are in the midst of the storm; we should thank him for walking us through the trials. It’s hard to see God when we’re in the middle of a struggle, but know that he is there beside us; guiding our steps and helping us to persevere.

The content of these three verses doesn’t come naturally to us. In fact, we have to diligently practice them. Learning to be thankful in all things teaches us to love and respect the God who created everything.