I know you're listening. I talk to you every day; multiple times a day. But where do I start? How do I start? Even after 26 years of knowing you, I’m still sometimes unsure of how to address you. God? Lord? Father? Jesus? Yahweh? Elohim? El-Shaddai? Jehovah? Adonai? I know that you have a lot of names. I like them all, so it’s often hard to choose which one to use.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving. It was a chilly and clear day in Greenville, North Carolina. You gave us blue skies and crisp mountain air. It was a wonderful day. A refreshing day.
It was also an interesting day. It was the sort of day where there's never a dull moment and rarely a quiet moment. "Interesting in a good way," is how I would describe it to most people who aren't familiar with our extended family.
Anyway, truth be told, it's been an interesting year and a half. And it’s been an even more interesting seven-year run preceding that. You of all people, Lord, know how much has come and gone and what still lingers. I suppose that I could sit here and ramble on about neurological disorders, seizures, ambulance rides, medications, unintentional weight loss, job loss, personal loss, anxiety, fear, dread and a hundred other seemingly-bleak circumstances and issues.
I could complain. I could be angry. I could worry. I could be afraid.
Or I could choose to just say, "Thank you."
I could realize that every moment in which I have life is a beautiful chance to thank you. I could embrace every moment as an opportunity to be grateful for something. For just one thing. For little things and big things. For weird things and neat things. For fun things and painful things. For marvelous things and ordinary things. For spectacular things and simple things. For everything. For all of the things.
So thank you, Lord.
Thank you for this moment where I have a heartbeat and air in my lungs. Thank you for the brain cells, the grey matter, the mental functionality and the intellect. Without all of that I couldn't even write, type, verbalize or process these sentences and thoughts. I take that for granted every day and I shouldn’t.
I’ve known you since I was five-years-old. Mom and dad made sure that I knew you well. They still do. They made sure that I spent a lot of time in your house, especially since dad worked there every day. He even had his own office and I thought that was pretty cool. It always smelled of well-worn theology books, commentaries and Bibles. He has a different office these days, but it’s still in one of your other houses and this time he gets to speak every Sunday. The aroma of books is even stronger. Thanks for blessing me with a mom and dad who love me enough to always point me to you; who teach me to work hard; who live lives of integrity, love and sacrifice. I want to be like them.
My siblings and I are all grown up now — with our own weird schedules, challenges and lives — but we still come together on Sundays to hear dad speak, to learn more about you and to lead worship together. Thank you for the gift of music; for the sound of a freshly-strung acoustic guitar; for piano arrangements that lead us into your holy presence; for drum solos and percussive energies that make our feet tap and our spirits soar; for beautiful voices that bring us as close to the angels as we can get this side of Heaven.
Thanks for miracles. I remember there was that one time a few years ago when I had a seizure while driving my mom’s Ford Windstar minivan. I was by myself and it could have ended as a tragedy. After all, I was on a main road, cruising along at around 45mph. It could have ended with my vehicle drifting into oncoming traffic and crashing head-on into another car. It could have ended with broken bones or a shattered spinal cord. It could have ended with paralyzation and a life spent in a wheelchair. It could have ended with a mom and dad burying their child. Instead, it ended with a minivan that slowly coasted off the road and into some grass as another friendly motorist stopped to call 911. I don’t remember any of it. I wasn’t even mentally or neurologically aware of what was happening. That’s how seizures go. But, I didn’t suffer so much as a scratch. That’s called a “miracle.” That was all you, Jesus.
On Thanksgiving Day, I awoke to the sound of family and the smell of food. Thank you for how well those two things often go together. Thank you for tender turkey meat, for soft yeast rolls and for homemade pies and cakes. And coffee. And freshly-washed pillow cases. And a comfortable bed. And the color of the leaves in the fall. And the sunsets on the bay.
I confess that I don’t say “thank you, God” nearly as often as I should. Life is busy. It’s hard and there are many days when I just feel like giving up altogether. But, then I’m reminded of your eternal promises and I know that you’ll see me through. You always have. Life isn’t falling apart, despite what I might think. One way or another, you’ll make a way. You haven’t left me yet and you’re here even now.
You’ll always be here. You’ll always be doing your thing — grace, help, hope, mercy, forgiveness and love.
And for that, I will always be thankful.