Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mr. Self-Reliant

It is unfortunate to hear that there are some in our world whose independent spirit has crowded out gratitude. In a recent local newspaper, there was a letter to the editor arguing the useless nature of the upcoming holiday. For what ought we to give thanks when we have labored by our own hands to provide the roof over our heads and the food upon the table?

Indeed, why give thanks if you believe there is no One to thank? Unless of course, you plan to worship the turkey goddess this Thursday as some have joked. What is the purpose of this holiday? A great day to gather together with family, eat delicious foods and watch your favorite teams throw around the pigskin? Or perhaps, a day to herald the beginning of the shopping season, the getting season and the busiest season of the year?

So, I ask, why give thanks?

“Were you there when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone- while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7)

Even the most self-reliant person in this world must recognize that he did not create this world; he did not cause the plant to grow; he did not make the earth revolve around the sun once again. Perhaps this person would still be reluctant to thank Some One for the miracle of the earth, the stars, the sun, the rain, plants, and animals. It saddens me, for a heart of gratitude is healthy for the soul. Mr. Self-reliant is unwilling to open the door of possibility – the possibility that he is not in charge of even himself.

Recognizing the Sovereign of earth causes thanksgiving to well up within my soul. He made plants and animals for utilitarian purposes, but also for our pleasure. The joy of a black Labrador’s slobbery kisses, the warmth of a calico kitten’s snuggle, the majesty of a twelve point buck strutting around the forest, the brilliance of spring’s tulips, the cool shade of summer’s maples, the soft sweetness of fresh mown grass underfoot all provide plentiful reasons for gratitude.

Even if you still choose to respectfully disagree with my firm belief in a Creator and Sustainer of all life, surely you can find many others to whom thanksgiving is deserved. The woman who gave you birth, for one. That is something you could not have done for yourself. And while we’re at it, you couldn’t do much for yourself for several years, so that woman is deserving of years of gratitude!

Has no one ever done a kind favor for you? Has no one ever lent you a hand, or a tool? And have you had no one befriend you or has no one ever loved you?

Courtesy requires that we thank those who frequent our businesses and those who do business for us. Workers who receive appreciation will inevitably do a better job than those who sense their work is thankless. And customers who know they are valued will be more likely to return.

Thanksgiving is simply a reminder that we are not alone in this journey of life. There are people all around us and a God above us who make the path smoother and the load lighter.

If you still choose to spend Thursday without thanks, Mr. Self-reliant, I am sorry for you.

For gratitude changes my outlook on all of life.

What are YOU thankful for?


Denise said...

I am thankful for you my dear friend, thank you for the birthday wishes.

Beth K. Vogt said...

I am thankful that God offers me grace rather than law. I am thankful for my family and my friends.
I am thankful for laughter--and for tears.