Friday, November 8, 2013

Be thankful?? For stinks!

The world around me seems to be falling apart. The society I grew up knowing has disappeared and what has replaced it both sickens and scares me. I was once a decent athlete able to perform in sports and in life with some sense of dignity, but now my body is aging, now my body aches from under used muscles, deteriorated joints and a sedentary life that comes from general laziness! 

My body does not function as well as it has in the past, all things that should be down are up (BP, weight, blood sugar, waistline) and so many things are changing... my hair once a dark brown is now peppered with aging grey, my muscles (while never huge or that strong) are now seeming non-existent. I still 'think' like I am 18 yrs old, but quite frankly this 50yr+ old body is literally falling apart!

On top of my body going downhill, regardless of my efforts (little as they may be) to keep it tuned and fit... I have had dreams of who I wanted to become and what I dreamed I would accomplish and those dreams have NOT turned out as I had dreamed them! I had dreams of coaching football and baseball as a profession and teaching history, but those dreams have long since past me by, and my dreams of success and financial independence have long eluded me, although my discipline with my finances play heavy in those results!

From my perspective, I could look at my life and come to the conclusion that my life, as it stands now, is a life of physical failure and lost dreams! The successes unfulfilled and a life of mediocre achievement lead me to believe I am a failure! I could come to the conclusion that I am a failure for many reasons, but my lack of self image always seems to lead me down the path that it is all my fault and that I did NOT accomplish these things because I am lazy and my dreams will never be fulfilled because I have not and will not work hard enough for them to come to fruition! So with that perspective in mind, what in the world do I have to be thankful for?

Well as I type these words, my heart and mind SCREAM at me with a counter argument! First of all, I have a beautiful and loving wife of 32 years who [for reasons beyond my understanding] adores me and her life purpose since 1981 has been to complete me! Her task is a monumental one and quite frankly no one truly understood why she took it up, but the fact of the matter is that she did and she has been my loving partner in this life for these past 3+ decades and has pledged to me many times over that she is mine for whatever time we have left in this mortal life!! With such a woman in my life I am blessed! I do not deserve her beauty NOR her love BUT I have it... and for that I am blessed!

My second thoughts are my children... Three awesome children, all very different in personality, all very different in how they approach life, but three of the most wonderful children a dad could ever hope for. Are they perfect, no, but then who is... They have made me proud in their accomplishments and they have frustrated me with some of their choices... but regardless they have been a source of great joy that my wife and I have experienced for over 30yrs. The memories of them as youngsters still run rampant in my brain and bring me joy in their remembrance... But it does not end there... now that joy has been doubled by their marriages bring us 3 more wonderful children into our lives, and with those marriages have come 5 of the most wonderful blessings a dad could EVER hope for... GRANDCHILDREN!! Our 5 grandchildren have been a great source of joy and peace (if peace can be associated with small grandchildren) They have filled our hearts with more love than we could have EVER dreamed... I am truly blessed!

The third thought that comes to my mind is what God has led me to as a minister/preacher/pastor over these past 18 years. Though the way has NOT been easy NOR free from trial or trouble, it has always been a direction that my heart was totally at peace with... The calling of God to the ministry, as difficult as it was to surrender to initially (I ran from God for 10yrs) it has been a constant source of strength and peace, even in the hardest of times as a pastor, even when attacks from the Enemy came in the form of church member complaints and accusations! Thru all of the difficulty, God has given me great peace about serving Him! 

I once had a friend with whom I served in the ministry for a brief time before God took him home. He came to New Orleans from the island paradise we know as Hawaii. I asked him how he could leave 'paradise' and come to New Orleans to serve in the ministry... His answer has stuck with me to this day, he said, "There is no greater paradise than to serve in the center of God's will!" I have served in the center of God's will for many years and I can agree that even thru the hard times, it is a service of peace and joy and contentment knowing I am doing what God wants me to do... I am EXTREMELY blessed!

Finally, as my heart and mind cry out... this verse came to mind - Colossians 1:21-22... and when I read it, ALL the above reasons for thinking my life was a failure AND all the above reasons for seeing the joy and contentment in my life... they all pale to this ONE thing...

This tells me that I was once "FAR" away from God, lost and hopeless. I was separated from Him and I was at war against Him because I was seeking my own way, my own desires and going against His will... but even as I warred against Him, He loved me... even as I constantly sought to push Him away, He drew me ever closer and thru Jesus He reached down and brought reconciliation to my life, redemption to my soul and restoration to my heart!

I now know God's holy presence in my life and it is not just for this earthly life, but for all eternity I am in His presence! I am set aside by God for HIS purposes and given guidance and direction in filling that purpose. I stand before a perfect and holy God with NO blot on my soul, with no stain on my life, I stand before Him with all my imperfections and the sins of my life wiped away and forgiven... I stand without blame, without fault and know that this is forever!


What reason do I have for thankfulness? From a perspective of the flesh, life does stink and it seems as if the world is spiraling downward NEVER to recover, and although my body is breaking down and the 'dreams' I once possessed have not come to fruition... I am still a very thankful man and it is because of Christ! For what He has done! For what He has given! For what I have experienced! This world does not hold my happiness or contentment... this world does not provide my joy nor my peace, this comes from my Savior, Jesus Christ! I am a truly blessed man!

What about you today? Are you sinking in despair believing your life is a failure OR that life has dealt you a bad hand? Take a step back and look at what God has done for you in the person of Jesus Christ and know that you are blessed as well! You are blessed if you know Christ and have experienced His grace and forgiveness resulting in eternal salvation! You are also blessed if you do NOT know Him yet, because He is there calling for you, waiting patiently for you, wanting to forgive your sin and save your soul. The pathway to God has been cleared by what Christ has done and it is available to you today... call on Jesus...accept Him as your Savior...confess Him as Lord in your life... and you will be saved! 

God bless you all and have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday season!

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