New Years Eve 2017 fell on a Sunday this year. I found myself in Ohio visiting family for Christmas with my wife and three small children. For a few days its a chaotic yet a blissful time as all of my sisters huddle under my parents roof with all of our children. This year we had 17! Many families can only handle a few hours together before they are ready to get home but we spend breakfast, lunch and dinner together. I am grateful for this and the chance to relive so many great childhood experiences with my kids.
Today, New Years Eve, marked the final day of your trip. We would be flying out in the evening. This meant we had the morning to visit with my parents. After breakfast and then shoveling the driveway we headed to church. My parents and sister go to a church call Scranton Road Baptist. It’s in Cleveland, Ohio and the building seemed to from the early to mid 1900’s but the folks inside were friendly.
We shook hands and said our good mornings. A typical Sunday morning. My Dad warned me that the service is a bit longer than my usual service in Texas. Not a problem, maybe the pastor had a lot to say?
Either way, its interesting how sometimes in life we are reminded of simple truths that have profound impact and those truths come at the most unlikely times.
After we sang a few songs the pastor came up to the pulpit. He looked in his early 60’s. In the first few minutes of his sermon he was discussing the new year which made sense since it was New Years Eve. All of the sudden the recapped the year by saying this, “I hope that if you had a blessed year, you are thankful. And I also hope that if you had a challenging year, you are thankful!” That statement really hit me hard as he didn’t leave any room for excuses, discontent, anger, disappointment, or revenge.
In life, it’s so easy to point out what’s wrong with a person, place, event, year, or even the world. But he was right, it’s just as easy to point out what’s right with a person, place, event or even the world.
His comment reminded me of a quote, “If you have a grateful heart, fear can not survive.”
THE REST OF THE STORY
So, this next part of the article is for Pastor Joe and the Joe’s in all of us.
On a bitter cold and snowy day in Cleveland, Ohio. Some streets yet to be plowed. With plenty of wrong in the world and even around the corner of this church. A pastor named Joe woke up. Put his clothes on and headed into work. Maybe he didn’t want to go but he went anyhow. He faithfully prepared and went to the pulpit not realizing that years or even decades ago he was appointed to preach at this church on this very day.
He stood up and shared a story about ‘thankfulness.’ He was authentic and genuine. He said these words aloud and they touched the ears of a guy that had never been to his church. A guy who lives thousands of miles away in Texas and they had never met.
He told me to be thankful. Be thankful if it was a good year or to be thankful if was a challenging year. But to be thankful no matter the situation to find away to be thankful.
Today, I am thankful for Joe. Thanks Joe for being faithful even if it’s tough. Thanks Joe, for setting an example. Thanks Joe for sharing the truth.
No matter your situation, be Joe. As he reminded me being thankful is a choice. We can always find something to be thankful for in the feasts and the famines.
So here’s to 2018! Seek, and you shall find… seek thankfulness and you will surely find it and share it daily, you never know who might be listening even if it’s just your subconscious. So this year resolve to be thankful, in all things and all the time!