The gift of gratitude

June 27, 2009 — Leave a comment

God Bless TexasThis month is one full of mixed emotions. On the one hand, I’m looking forward to seeing God work out His purposes during our move. . .on the other, I’m taking some time to reflect on the blessings He has lavished upon me during my time in Texas.

Now those of you who know me well can attest that I’m something of a sap anyway. For example, tonight was sad because my family ate at our favorite pizza joint for the last time. I know, I know. . .they have good pizza in Arkansas too. But I’ve spent over a year building relationships with these people. And saying goodbye is always hard.

I think about pushing my sweet daughter on the swing in our neighborhood park for the last time. It’s coming! But, you know what? It comes for all of us, doesn’t it?

I think about the transformation of my son from a scared and timid bike rider to a real pro — something that took place right here in our neighborhood during the past few years.

Texas has been good to me, and when I leave, part of my heart will remain — not because of the place but because of the people and the life lessons I’ve learned here.

I guess I could reminisce at length, but you probably wouldn’t be interested in reading that.

I came to Texas in 1995 to begin my Seminary training. Now some fourteen years later, I stand in awe of how God has worked in my life — not only to make me the person He wants me to be, but also to give me some truly indescribable gifts:

  • I’m grateful for my wife. She loves, adores, and encourages me. She completes me like no one else ever could. She believes in me at those times when I struggle to believe in myself. I’m also grateful for her family, who has shown her what it means to love — and who have loved me as their own son.
  • I’m grateful for two incredible kiddos who are Texans by birth — and by accent. They teach me more than anything else in the world ever could. And they challenge me daily to live a life of integrity — because they watch every little thing I do — and say.
  • I’m grateful for the countless friends who I”ve made along life’s path. . .for times of joy and times of sorrow. . . for times when knowing they were praying made the difference between curling up or moving on, broken heart in hand. Both of our children are miracles in their own right, and the fervent prayers of friends and family could never be overemphasized.
  • I’m grateful for loving church families. I’ve served on staff at three different churches in Texas, each one with their own unique personalities, challenges, and triumphs. But in each one, I have truly loved the people like family — and have experienced their love in return. These congregations have taught me many valuable lessons in life and leadership, but mainly they’ve taught me how to love more deeply.
  • I’m grateful that no matter what comes my way, God has shown that He is bigger than any problem. With His help, I know that I can meet any challenge and come out on the other side stronger, more committed to Him, and above all, a more vibrant representation of Himself. I’m so glad that He takes such care to conform us to the image of Christ!

I’m reminded tonight of that wisdom-packed book On the Anvil by Max Lucado. And I know that while my physical location may be changing, God knows exactly where I’ll be. And He will continue refining me no matter where I go for as long as I live.

What I feel at this very moment in time transcends contentment, anticipation — even the greasy pizza I had for dinner. What I feel right now is an overwhelming sense of God’s goodness and grace. And I’m compelled to respond in gratitude.

I encourage you to take some time out to let God overwhelm you with His presence, His power, His provision, and His peace.

And give thanks with a grateful heart. It’s good for the soul.

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