-- Marcus Cicero
We have always known that God wants us to be thankful. And that it is a trait of all people who are well-adjusted in life and pleasant to be around. Researchers now tell us that grateful people also have healthier hearts, sleep better at night, and are calmer and happier. Thankfulness, it turns out, has the power to energize and to heal.
I try to keep this focus in my life, and writing things down helps me to concentrate on the good that God keeps sending my way. Again, this morning I am reminded that "the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places,” as Psalm 16:6 says. "Surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
Even in this strange year of pandemic I have seen "showers of blessing" (Ezekiel 34:26)--
1. A wife who still loves me after all these years and insists that she wants to spend many more by my side. These last eight months have given us lots of extra time together, and that has helped, not hurt, the relationship.
2. Several members of Audrey's family have come down with COVID, and one of her aunts died from it this summer. But so far, she and I, and John Mark and Daniela in Texas, have remained healthy.
3. We have friends across the country and around the world who stay in contact and regularly send their love our way.
4. I have a job that I love, a clear sense that it was God who called me to it when I was just a teenager, and the privilege to carry it out in a unique church like First Baptist, Alexandria. There's no other place I'd rather be!
5. God has given us a long-anticipated, beautiful, and functional new sanctuary. And the space below for our children's ministry is almost complete now, too.
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life," says Proverbs 13:12.
6. I am surrounded by an extraordinary staff at FBCA. These pastors and support folks have quickly adapted their lives and ministries to this new world they find themselves in and are meeting it bravely and creatively.
7. Most of all I am grateful for my relationship with Jesus Christ. He loves me when I am unlovable, and faithful even when I am not.
"It is because of the LORD's great love that [I] am not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness."
-- Lamentations 3:22-23
Like mine, your Thanksgiving celebration will probably be a lot different this year. Where you hold it, and who will be around the table with you. But the essence of it all remains the same. Don't fail to do this:
"Give thanks, with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.
And now let the weak say 'I am strong.’ Let the poor say 'I am rich.’
Because of what the LORD has done for us.
With all of my heart, and all of my very being, I am grateful especially that Jesus loves me and literally died for me on a horrible cross so that I can escape eternity in a Christless Hell, and live forever with Him in Heaven. And I am also grateful for my Church, which has stuck by me through some very dark days in my life. I am grateful to Pastor Don and Audrey, for Pastors Carolyn and Wayne, and for Pastor Roger and for the whole Church. And especially grateful for Archie, who is vigilant in keeping us safe and comfortable. Thank God for First Baptist Church of Alexandria!