Thanks Giving Excellence

Thanks Giving Excellence

There are some things that move your heart so much that they become imprinted on your brain.  I believe this is one of those instances for me.

We held our annual Thanksgiving Eve Service this past Wednesday evening. The main purpose of this service is to give our people a chance to stand in the sanctuary and to give praise to God.  Giving thanks publicly is an important part of worship (most of the time we do it through our singing), it is good for our children to see us standing and proclaiming, it brings great glory to God, and it is good for these praises to be said aloud in our communities.  I was sitting and waiting for the service to start and one of our congregants came walking in and took his place in the second pew.  For some reason, I took note of the manner in which he walked.  His head was held high and he seemed to be walking with purpose.  I didn’t think much of it until after the service. When the first time came to give testimony, he popped up out of the pew, came forward and shared his praise and gratitude toward God.  He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer about a year and a half ago and his daughter had plans to get married in a year.  His plea to God was to be healthy enough to walk his daughter down the aisle and to rejoice in her wedding.  God had granted that plea and although he had said it several times in public all ready, he wanted to make sure that he gave praise in the Thanksgiving service.  He struggles with public speaking and his words were simple and short but they came from a heart that not only wanted to give thanks but needed to give thanks.

That is what struck me the most.  He needed to give thanks to the Lord publicly.  He understood that even though his journey has not been easy, the Lord had given him his heart’s desire to walk his daughter down the aisle and because of that he could not stay away from this time of publicly giving thanks.  I could almost sense his sense of fulfillment as he sat down.  He had accomplished what he set out to do.  His understanding of what God had done had overcome any fear of speaking in public and it drove him to do what God was calling him to do.  

How often are we given an opportunity to give thanks publicly, pray publicly, or offered a chance to say a word of praise to our God and we have long pauses of silence?  Sometimes it seems that someone finally speaks...only because they can’t stand the silence. Sometimes, I realize, that we are gathering our thoughts or praying in our hearts but shouldn’t we live our lives in such a way that we are in a constant need of giving thanks publicly to God?  Shouldn’t we be amazed that we are given our daily bread?  That we have been blessed with our families?  Shouldn’t our daily fixation on the truths of the gospel create a constant urge to give him thanks and glory?  Maybe, just maybe, the real reason there are long pauses when we are asked to give praise or prayer is that we need time to fix our eyes back on Jesus.  That we have allowed our eyes to wander away from our only true source of beauty and joy.  That we have become fixated on the requests we have rather than the blessings we have been given.  

Being healed from cancer is something that changes your life.  You are able to see more clearly what is important and that every day is a gift. You can’t help but shout to the Lord.  You are reminded, each day you wake up, that today is a gift.  We have been healed of our sin. Our sin that was destroying any hope and peace that tried to grip our hearts.  God reached down from heaven and opened the eyes of our heart, convicted us of our sin, gave us faith, and then gave us new life through Jesus.  Each day is a gift where we are able to give him praise and glory for who he is, what he has done, and our assured promises for tomorrow.  When we fix our eyes on Jesus and allow those truths to define us, then we are like my friend...unable to keep quiet.

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