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Thankfulness (11.22.21)

Published 11/22/21

The late F. W. Boreham, an Australian Baptist minister, in the mid 1900’s use to tell the story of three friends who, on a rainy day, attended a little church among the Yorkshire dales.  The service was to be conducted by a preacher who had to walk 15 miles over the hills to get to the church that day. This day it was pouring down rain, (hope I don’t offend anyone), like cats and dogs.  I mean it was not a light rain, it was a heavy rain, like elephants and rhinoceros’ rain.  The hills seem to be extra slippery walking down, and like ice walking up.  It was not a good day to be walking.  There was no singing in the rain going on.

“Is this man a great preacher?” asked one of three as they did their personal trudging down the muddy lane. “Oh, no,” replied one of his companions. “He is no good at preaching at all, but oh can he pray; his prayers are always filled with a torrent of thanksgiving for this, that, and the other.  It’s amazing how he always is thanking God for something!” After hearing in the introduction all he had to go thru to get to the church on this day, and finally getting their and hardly no one showing up for the service the three visitors wondered what, on such a day, with so much going wrong, and such a small congregation, could awaken this good man’s gratitude. In due course, the service did begin as the little old man, (senior citizen, I mean), who was drenched to the skin, after his long walk thru the hills what would he pray?  He signaled to the people to bow their heads. Dripping with water, he cried out with a fervor, “Almighty God, we thank Thee that everyday is not as bad as this day.” 

Momma said there would be days like this. The other day my family and I were honored to be asked by the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce to be one of the Grand Marshalls at the Main Street Bank “Fantasy in Lights Parade”.  Now the other two Grand Marshalls were much more famous and much more deserving than us. The 1st was Erik Estrada formerly of Chip’s TV Fame and the 2nd was Kathie Brown from Wheeling Health Right. It was an honor I never expected to happen.  Thank you to anyone that may have waved at the man in the red convertible corvette.  The car was not mine but I did enjoy riding in it.

Then on the news, my heart sank, when 72 hours later it begins to rain in my spirit as I saw a sickening act of a man driving a car thru a parade. It was at Waukesha, Wisconsin at their City’s Christmas Parade.  It is my understanding that at least five people were killed and more than 40 were injured.  It is said that it was a red SUV that drove through a number of barricades and a crowd of people doing this horrible act. Our heart and prayers go out to the families, communities, and the people that were affected by this terrible act.

Our heart had already been heavy when we heard of Dr. Dave Walker’s passing who was the longtime chief meteorologist at the local TV station.  Our path had crossed many a time, and he was always kind and professional.  I was told he had just started his retirement, when he died.  My heart and prayers go out to his family.  Then it rained again, when I heard about Steve Mazure, who was an anchor man for many years when I came to the Ohio Valley back in 1990. I was blessed to work with him more, when he started working with the “Our Town” program on a local university’s public access channel.  He was a great man, compassionate man, and helpful to our ministry.  Our hearts and prayers go out to his family.

Maybe during these past 18 months with this pandemic as well as ordinary life maybe you have lost a love one or a friend.  I know I think about the shock of losing Mr. J. Michael Myers, a great editor of a local newspaper. What do we say in times like these?  

            Working in his office in Minneapolis, Jess Lair, 35, collapsed with a heart attack.  He had been driving for success—and succeeding—in a job he hated.  While in the hospital, the stricken executive reviewed his life and decided, “From now on I am never again going to do something that I don’t deeply believe in.”

            Mr. Lair and his family shifted to simple living.  He enrolled in graduate school and earned a PhD in psychology.  Then the Lairs moved to Montana, where he found a teaching job at the state university. For his students, Jess Lair wrote the story of how his life was turned around.  He called his book, “I Ain’t Much Baby—But I’m All I’ve Got.”  It became a bestseller!

            It took a heart attack to get Jess Lair to evaluate and change his life.  But things needn’t get that critical.  Each day offers opportunities to choose to live life rather than to succumb to events.  At least in some ways, the choice is ours—to live or exist, to be Thankful or Ungrateful.

            When a person knows that death is near and inevitable, one of the most common reactions is regret over something they did not do.  A dying person told how hard he had worked to provide for his family.  But because he was working so long and so hard, he never really had time to spend with them.

            Terminally ill, he said:  “If I could go home once more, I would go fishing with my son.  I always wanted to, but I never had time.”  He did get a chance to go home again.  When he came back to the hospital, just a few days before he died, he said:  “I went fishing with my son.  It was the best day in my whole life.”

            Don’t put off acts of love until it’s too late.  It is my prayer you will be guided into a life of Thankfulness and a life that has avoided regrets.  Change Thanksgiving from being an annual event to a daily event.