Monday, March 30, 2009
Current Study: A to Z
Today’s Topic: Give Thanks!
Today’s Scripture: 1 Chronicles 16:8-10 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Two weeks ago I was sitting around our dining room table with my entire family and a birthday cake in front of me. Five of the six grandkids gathered around me (one isn’t old enough yet) to help blow out the candles that had been arranged in two groups of five and six to represent my age. Yes, that’s right, I’m now 56 years old. Then the kids delivered presents to me. They were all very well thought out and met a need I had mentioned in the past. One of them was especially fascinating. It was a rectangular box about ten inches long and three inches wide. I wondered what it was.
When I peeled off the wrapping paper I found something inside I had never needed before. I had talked over the last couple of years about doing it, but had never really thought seriously about it because I didn’t have all of the equipment necessary, some of which costs hundreds of dollars. But thanks to my favorite hunting buddy – my son – I was now set up with the first piece of equipment. I took it out of the box and tried it right away. I was incredibly attracted to it. The sound it made resonated in my heart. For the first time in my life I owned a wild turkey call. Thanks to another hunting friend who will loan me a shotgun, and my son who has arranged for us to hunt together on a friend’s land, I will be trying my luck calling in one of those big Toms and having deep fried turkey this spring.
Turkey always reminds me of Thanksgiving. I know we’re on the wrong side of winter to be thinking about that holiday, but we’re never in the wrong part of the year to be thankful. In fact, expressions of thanks are to be a prominent part of our communication. But it isn’t, is it? I’ve discovered a severe lack of thanksgiving in my personal life. Getting a turkey call for my birthday made me realize that. As I’ve learned the meaning of all the different sounds turkeys make, I’ve discovered that I’ve not even been a very good turkey. I’ve done a lot of cackling out warnings and I’ve gobbled in pride about my position in the flock, but I’ve done very little clucking of contentment. Even when others around me are softly purring their satisfaction with group life, I interrupt them with gobbles that draw attention to me.
The spirit of thanks is destroyed by the philosophy that everything is about me. I think that philosophy started with the very way in which we are taught as children to be thankful. I’m a victim of it, and I know I’ve done it with my kids and grandkids. We require them to say “thank-you” when they receive something, but we don’t take the time to teach them how to be thankful. We have taught them to say thank- you because it pleases us, gets us off their backs, and gets them what they want. But it doesn’t do anything to teach them the attitude of thankfulness. Maybe instead of telling them to say thank-you, we need to ask them how the gift made them feel. The attitude of thankfulness and its verbal response of thanks is generated only by a sincere appreciation for what was done. We’ve learned to say thanks without really being appreciative.
What it really boils down to is a lack of understanding about grace. We only really appreciate what we know we didn’t deserve. We are only truly thankful for what we never expected. That’s why we should be overwhelmed with thanksgiving for God’s unmerited gift of salvation. That’s why when I arrived at the office this morning and unlocked the door, it took me five minutes to enter because I was so overwhelmed with the beauty of the day. I stood outside and looked into the blue sky and praised God for the birds singing. I thanked Him for the wonder of forgiveness. I cried tears of joy as I recalled all the expressions of grace in my own life that have brought me undeservedly to this point of ministry. I gave thanks unto the Lord.
As I entered the door, I found myself singing an old, old chorus. I was singing it loudly, and I’m sure the guys in the warehouse next to our offices could hear me. “Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul. Thank you, Lord, for making me whole. Thank you, Lord, for giving to me; Thy great salvation so rich and free.”
That’s the call I want this turkey to make all day every day.