By the time this article is posted in The Daily Post-Athenian, most folks will be done with whatever Thanksgiving celebration 2020 has allowed. Many will have already turned their focus to Christmas, if they hadn’t prior to turkey day.
Before we get too far removed from the concept of gratefulness, I want to share with you, Dear Reader, some changes I’ve been experiencing recently. Here goes …
I have officially reached the midpoint of my life in this physical realm.
In case you’re wondering, here’s the first Biblical promise referencing long life, “And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:3).
I turned 60 this year; so, if I’m shooting for 120, I’m now halfway there.
And there’s something about knowing I’m on the back side of life that has changed my perspective ever so slightly: I find myself thanking God for anything and everything.
I know the Apostle Paul admonished the believer, “giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20) and, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
But recently, it’s become more of a reality, or maybe I should say, more of a practice for me.
Like many, I am a creature of habit. My morning routine is exactly that, routine. However, almost every step I take is interspersed with thanksgiving.
As I make my way from the bedroom to the kitchen, I am thanking God for feet and legs that carry me wherever I want to go.
When I flip the light switch, I’m thankful for electricity, that I wasn’t born in an era where candles were used for light and a fireplace was used for heat.
As I start the coffee pot, I’m reminded of my grandmother who told me it was her job as a child to grind the coffee beans each day. She was so glad when stores started carrying prepackaged, ground coffee. (I wonder if she would find it ironic that I buy whole bean coffee and use a bur grinder.) I am thankful that I can have a great cup of coffee with little effort in a short amount of time.
As I get in my 1997 GMC Suburban (with over 548,000 miles on it), I find myself thanking God for such a reliable vehicle. One that takes me wherever I want to go and is comfortable to ride and drive.
My primary form of exercise is yard work. Every time I’m out there cutting the grass, I’m thanking God for strong legs, strong arms, and the wherewithal to complete the task.
The point I want to make, Dear Reader, is I’ve learned to appreciate more the things I have.
With the technology available to us, constantly bombarding our senses with newer, flashier, greater products, gadgets, gizmos, and fashions, it’s easy to focus our attention on the things we don’t have. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves bemoaning our perceived lack, instead of being grateful for what we do have.
As Christians, thankfulness helps us access the throne of God; at least, it’s the first step.
The Psalmist wrote, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4a).
As we thank our heavenly Father for whatever blessings we possess, it opens the gates of heaven to us. When we follow our thanksgiving with praise, we approach the very throne of God.
Many wonder why it seems as if their prayers are unheard. Perhaps it’s because their prayer is nothing more than a long list of all their troubles and woes. Instead of thanking God for something, anything, they spend all their time complaining to the One who already knows their life story before they even came to Him.
The lyrics of the old hymn, Count Your Blessings, seem like relevant advice:
“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
It’s easy to focus on those things that are troubling us, those things that are causing us physical pain, or those things that keep us awake at night. But I want to encourage you, Dear Reader, change your focus; look at the good things in your life.
Take the Apostle Paul’s advice, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6 [NIV]).
Tim Hughes is a lay minister and elder at Ascension Life Church in Athens. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org