There is something to be said about reflecting on life – where you’ve been, where you’re going and what it all means. Though we might often shutter at the thought of being so introspective, there is nothing like reflecting on life’s lessons and accomplishments, sorrows and triumphs to light the match of gratitude in our hearts. Though many of us don’t like the idea of reflection, no doubt many of us can find something to be thankful for. A kind word timely spoken. A distant memory that holds much value. A spouse who faithfully loves and serves. A child who seems to be responding well to the tutelage of a loving parent. A good job in an unsteady economy. Health. Whatever it may be for you, I hope you spend time this Thanksgiving season reflecting on those gifts and the One who so graciously granted them.
I believe it was the founding father, Thomas Paine who once said, “The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection”. Spoken like only a man’s man could say! Forged in part by the revolution and the masculinity of his age, we can learn much from Paine’s words in guiding us through life’s ups and downs in our own age today. It seems that as I am reflecting on all this I am learning I have far to go in following Paine’s recommendation. Don’t get me wrong. I do have much to be thankful for. God’s wonderful ways have allowed me to travel a lot in life, for which I am very grateful. Whether traveling throughout Europe while in the military, mission trips or vacations, I am thankful for the places I’ve been and I often look back fondly at those opportunities.
But life is not always just those positive experiences. I’ve also learned to be thankful for a mother, though now wasting away from the ravaging effects of Alzheimer’s, who had such a strong and independent spirit that I could have imagined no other woman to guide me and my siblings through the difficulties of divorce. A woman who gave herself away to her children by working long hours to make sure we had what we needed. I am also thankful for the course correction in my life that came from God’s sovereign hand – calling me to himself from the ways of this world. That showed me love on a completely different level than I could have ever imagined. In his continued kind providences in my life, I am now married to a wonderful wife and Melissa and I have the joy of watching our two sons begin to blossom from those early seeds sown in their lives in hopes they too one day will know Jesus as their Savior. It seems that God’s work in our lives continues to grow exponentially – for now our entire family can be thankful for the ways we’ve seen him work in getting us from Long Island to Maine in our quest to start a new church.
So as you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I do hope you have many things to be thankful for; granted to you by a loving heavenly father who, though his ways often seem mysterious, has it all under his control. And that is something truly to be thankful for!