November Newsletter 2020 Rick McPherson
As a boy, I remember singing, “Count your blessings, name them one by one…and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!” My list would include my dog, Spanky, a tri-color female Beagle; the new bike from Simpson- Sears that I had bought with money from my paper route delivering the Toronto Star; my newly acquired Tigers’ jersey and cap from Etobicoke Baseball League; and then the necessary parents, siblings and friends, notably Ronnie Loveys from the next street over. We played trucks in his backyard for days at a time. Life was good. The list was good. The blessings were good.
Truth be told, I had a very limited time span to accumulate much. Goods and services were limited, you might say. Now, I’m on the other side of the equation. My odometer shows that most of the usable miles have been, well, used. However, in the miles and smiles of my life I have learned some very important lessons. Some have been learned because I saw them, some, because I heard them. And some, because I grabbed the electric fence to see if the power was on!
One of the lessons is perspective. How you look at things that happen to you is very important. You do have choices and those choices affect your overall health, wealth and well-being. It was Charles Swindoll who said, “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to what happens to you!” I agree.
Perspective is also what you look at and listen to. If you focus on yesterday you will live your life with regret and disappointment. If you listen to critical, hateful words your life will reflect them. Guard your eyes and ears. Charles Dickens said,
“Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
I need not remind you that we are living in tumultuous times. These are days filled with corruption, lies and violence. Our lifestyles have been affected like never before. The word, “unprecedented” is used ad nauseam. It is easy to look at our world, listen to the talking heads and become not just ungrateful and unthankful, but resentful, angry and afraid. But we must resist the easy and live in the truth of God’s Kingdom not the World’s.
Here’s a gem from the Apostle Paul, who by the way knew a thing or two about corruption, lies and violence. In fact if you want to put your life experiences against his, you will be embarrassed. Nonetheless, he said, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Okay, I’m good with the “rejoice, pray and thanks” part. In fact, “Amen!”
But, “in all circumstances”? Really? Who does Paul think he is, telling us to give thanks in all circumstances? Well, he’s the same guy who wrote the letter to the Philippian church while he was a prisoner in Rome. He also wrote to the Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon while imprisoned. The theme of his letter to the Philippians? “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, Rejoice!” In fact the words “joy” and “rejoice” are used over 30x in the letter. Yes, I think Paul’s admonition to, “give thanks in all circumstances”, has weight.
With Paul’s words ringing in my ears and heart, I’m going to give thanks in all my circumstances this Thanksgiving. How about you?