Thursday, October 18, 2018
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.
Today’s word is THANKS.
In the spring of 2009, I remember sitting around our dining room table with my entire family and a birthday cake in front of me. The grandkids gathered around me to help blow out the candles that had been arranged in two groups of five and six to represent my age. 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 trying something new, but had never really thought seriously about it because I didn’t have all of the equipment necessary. 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 would loan me a shotgun, and my son who arranged for us to hunt together on a friend’s land, I was going to try turkey hunting.
Turkey always reminds me of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is coming up in a few weeks, but the spirit of thanksgiving is to be a constant in our hearts and a prominent part of our daily 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 the problem starts with the very way 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 gratitude. 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.
Recently I arrived at the office before sunrise and unlocked the door, but I stood outside for over five minutes. I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the day. I looked up at the dark sky and praised God for His immensity. I thanked Him for the wonder of His 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 glad no one else was there to have to hear it.
“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.