November is the official month for Thanksgiving. It is good to have this reminder to reflect on the many blessings God has given to each of us. For me, one of these things is the person who introduced me to Jesus. At this time of year I like to reach out to him and thank him for his role in my life. This past weekend I did so; I texted him, "Thanks for telling me about Jesus over 25 years ago!" His reply was, "Thanks buddy! What's even cooler is that in eternity past God put your name in the Lambs Book of LIfe!" We always have something to be thankful for!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His loving-kindness is everlasting. Psalm 107:1
Another thankful occasion for me is being part of a ministry at camp and having the opportunity to witness so many others being introduced to Jesus throughout the year. At Rock Mountain Bible Camp we experienced one of the best retreat and camp seasons in 10 years. What does that look like? It is 12,854 camper days, 4,841 campers and 38,086 meals served. Thnk about that! This means that at camp, 4,841 people sat under the teaching of the Word of God in the past 365 days. Some heard the good news for the first time and, like myself over 25 years ago met Jesus as Lord and Savior. We always have something to be thankful for!
Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. Psalm 100:4
One more reason for thankfulness (though there are many) is the staff I get to serve with daily here at Rock Mountain. Leadership at camp and retreat centers can be notoriously daunting. Staff often change year to year and the day to day challenges of camp can be difficult to navigate. However at Rock Mountain I have had the humbling privilege of serving with the same six staff for over eight years. Their sacrificial ministry, and desire to see lives impacted by the gospel have been a huge blessing in my life, and I cannot thank God enough for allowing me to minister alongside them.
You are my God, and I give thanks to YOu; You are my God, I extol You. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His loving-kindness is everlasting. Psalm 118:28-29
A story came across my desk this week and while I don't recall who sent it, or how I received it, it is a great reminder about being thankful.
"Two old friends met each other on the street one day. One looked forlorn, almost on the verge of tears. His friend asked, "What has the world done to you, my friend?"
The sad fellow said, "Let me tell you: three weeks ago, my uncle died and left me forty thousand dollars."
"That's a lot of money!"
"But you see, two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and he left me eighty-five thousand dollars, free and clear."
"It sounds to me that you've been very blessed!" said his friend.
"You don't understand!" he interrupted. "Last week my great-aunt passed away. I inherited almost a quarter of a million from her."
Now the man's friend was really confused. "Then, why do you look so glum?"
"This week....there's been nothing!""
That's the problem with receiving something on a regular basis. Our natural human tendency is that if we receive a gift long enough, we come to view it as an entitlement. We feel hurt or even angry if we don't receive it any longer.
It is the same way with the blessings God gives us everyday. I don't deserve the comfortable home that I live in, the beautiful scenery around me, the clean water I drink. But after receiving these gifts (and a multitude of others) for years, I sometimes fail to be grateful. I've come to expect these good things. And when one of them is removed for a short time (like water or electricity or the internet goes down), I get upset.
Let's make an effot today to recognize the blessing we've come to take for granted. Forcus on what we have rather than on what we don't have, and see if it doesn't improve our attitudes. Let's use this November as a time to pass along thanksgiving; both to people in our lives that we are grateful for, as well as the God who is the source of our many blessings.
What do you have to be thankful for this year? As the hymn writer Johnson Oatman wrote:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.