Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Years ago Emily and I purposed to record things for which we’re thankful each Thanksgiving. And although we’ve not always recorded these each year, for various reasons, I think we’ve always recounted our thankfulness in one fashion or another every year since we married. We’re renewing our effort this year to record our gratitude, to write it down or type it out, for the sake of looking back at a later date at the gratitude God put in our hearts on account of his goodness.

As we’ve purposed to do this, we’ve also wanted to divide up our gratefulness into two categories: those things for which we’re grateful that we have in common with others who are not in the grace of Christ but who oftentimes possess the same things by common grace; and those things for which we’re grateful that we have only as gifts of supernatural grace through the grace of God in Christ.

So, first, five things for which I’m thankful that God gives to Christians and non-Christians alike:

1. I’m thankful for coffee and wine. I could’ve made these two separate categories, but since they’re both beverages I put them together. Besides, they form an inclusio of gratitude on each day. So, first, the coffee. I’m thankful for coffee. I don’t just say this on account of the buzz one gets from the joyful java. No, I actually really, really like the way it tastes. But, lest I give the wrong impression, I also like well the way coffee helps to kick start the day. And for my gratitude at day’s end, I’m also grateful for wine, and specifically, red wine (merlot’s my favorite). But I’m not picky about this. We get the cheap table wine from Jewel ourselves. And it’s a delightful way to unwind and end the day.

2. I’m grateful for family, grateful for both of our families. As in any family, we’ve had our ups and downs. And yet, even so, there’s nothing and nobody like family. And our families are all in all, in any event, really wonderful. We’ve been greatly blessed by our families, especially our sacrificial and generous parents, who have outgiven us and modeled what it means to give yourself away for your children. Our families are the sort of gifts from God that are seen to be the inestimable gifts they are only with more years of doing life and with having a family ourselves. We bless God for them, and bless them before God. 

3. God has given me work for over sixteen years now. And I can’t honestly say that I love everything about my work (e.g., the endless paperwork, the constant changes in insurance coverage and all that entails, etc.). But I can honestly say that there are elements about it that I am very grateful for. And of course I’m grateful for the way it provides for our growing family, even as I’ve continued to pursue graduate work now for many years and needed to be part-time through much of this.

4. Emily and I have now been married for over eight years. And they’ve been eight years of God’s goodness to me. I could just as easily have put my marriage in the supernatural grace category, because I have a marriage blessed by the gospel of Christ and shot through with many covenant mercies. But I put it here because many nonbelievers enjoy God’s good gift of marriage, and enjoy its all too often untold benefits. My wife is easily the most loyal person in my life (which is of course the way it ought to be in a good marriage). She likewise outgives me, and no doubt always will. She’s been by my side for over eight years in steadfast covenant love, and I have every reason to believe that she’ll be there in all loyalty for fifty more years if we live that long.

5. Children do not come automatically to those who desire them. This we know well, personally from our own experience, as well as through the experience of friends. And so it’s fitting to remember God’s kindness to us in giving us now two children who have survived to do covenant life together with us. We’re exceedingly grateful for our two beauties and minis: Ariana Dalissa and Grace Felicity.

And, now, five things for which I’m thankful that God has given us as those joined to Jesus by his grace:

1. I’m grateful for the indwelling Holy Spirit, poured out from the risen Jesus, who sheds God’s everlasting love abroad in our hearts, and bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God. I’m grateful for his presence and ministry of leading and guiding into the truth and in paths of righteousness for the sake of the Name.

2. I’m grateful for the resurrection of God’s Christ, in whom we too shall rise from the dead. If God raised Christ, he will also raise us. Facing death and aging in our families and in our world, the preciousness of the promise of bodily life in Christ beyond the grave has become all the more precious with each passing year.

3. I’m also grateful for the local church. Despite all the faults of the church in America (including those we ourselves bring into it), it is still the place where God moves in mercy and might. And Emily and I have received ten thousand untold mercies by being a part of the ordinary life of a local church for many years now.

4. The word of God is a treasure to me. And this year, at the forefront of my gratefulness for the Scriptures is how it has the capacity to provide a coherent worldview that is beautiful and true and good. The Bible is not merely a book of timeless truths (though there is timeless truth in it). It is certainly not just a book of rules or principles for life (though there are without question principles for living). The Bible is revelation from God. And this revelation comes in a great drama of redemption that shows us God’s work, will, and ways in countless ways. The Bible is an extraordinary book. And this year I’m grateful for how this extraordinary book shapes our worldview, giving us wisdom for living our lives in this world that God created and governs, and not the one that people wished existed.

5. Lastly, I’m thankful for the free forgiveness of my many and great sins. I’m a bad man. I’m lost and undone apart from God’s free grace. And so I’m grateful this year that God’s grace pursues me all my days, reaches down and grabs a hold of me when I’m not reaching up, and keeps me for the day of redemption, for the day of everlasting joy. Again and again God works in my life to free me up to look away from self and false saviors to the only one who can deliver me from real guilt and God’s wrath—namely, Christ crucified, risen, and exalted.

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