My day had begun earlier. I had gotten up, gotten ready, and gotten gone - headed off for an early appointment. However, it turned out that the individual with whom I was supposed to meet could not make it. Now, let me say right here that it was not this person’s fault. That this individual was “providentially hindered” will be made plain below.
Nonetheless, those of you who know me know that I am a planner who is accustomed to operating on a schedule. Therefore, when my first appointment did not unfold as I had planned, I feared that my whole day, and perhaps my whole week, was off to an inauspicious beginning.
Finding myself with the unexpected gift of time, I called the Doctor to see if I could possibly get in for a follow up visit, as I was still coughing more than I thought I should be. He graciously worked me in. Unfortunately, he told me that I would be coughing for a few more days yet, as the sickness would have to run its course. When I came out of the Doctor’s office, I discovered to my further dismay that my vehicle battery was as dead as the proverbial doornail.
Frustrated, I called my local mechanic. He sent a truck to jump my vehicle off; and I then followed him back to the shop. Suffice it to say that, thirty minutes and a little better than a hundred bucks later, I was back on the road to the office. Not only was I still coughing; but now and now my wallet was smarting as well.
Upon arriving at the office, a fairly typical day unfolded. Most Pastors “put out fires”, as it were, on Monday morning, which is not always fun. Later on, as I was preparing to head to a luncheon, came the “coup de grace”. My wife texted me to say that she had somehow lost her car keys. She and her mother had been out shopping for the things they needed for our Thanksgiving meal, and had been in her mother’s car. However, when they returned to her mom’s house, my wife discovered that her own car keys were missing.
As you are probably aware, late model car keys are specialized, and not inexpensive to replace. More to the point, her house key and others of similar importance were on the keychain. I hung up the phone thinking to myself, “Goodness! How could anyone have a worse day than this? Here it is, not even lunch yet, and I am out one co-pay, one battery, one vehicle key replacement, and one locksmith bill to replace my door locks! Aghh!” I could hardly concentrate the rest of the morning or throughout lunch with all these things on my mind.
Then, later on, upon returning from my luncheon, I had what may be best termed as an epiphany. I was getting settled back into the office when my wife texted me to say that she had found her car keys! She and her mother had backtracked to each store and finally found them at Food City. She had apparently set them out of her purse at the checkout counter as she was paying, and then had inadvertently walked off and left them there. Some Good Samaritan had afterward found them, and had turned them over to customer service.
Greatly relieved, I laid down my phone. Just then, I happened to notice on my desk my notes from the previous Sunday’s services. There on the top, emblazoned in large print and underlined, was the title of David Ring’s message from Sunday morning: “I Am Blessed!” Immediately my pity party came to a screeching halt. It was transformed into a moment of both illumination and conviction.
Now, God did not speak audibly; but He clearly did speak! And it was if this is what He said to me: “Now, what are you complaining about? Do you really think you have problems? All because your precious plans got interrupted or because a set of keys was temporarily misplaced or a vehicle battery went bad?
Were not the keys recovered in short order? And did not the battery last well beyond what might have been expected? After all, is not this the first battery you have ever put in this vehicle? Also, did not the Doctor say that you were well on the way to recovery, and that you would be over your sickness in just a few days? And did not you get done all that was really needed in spite of an unexpected change in your plans? Has this really been such a bad day after all?
By comparison, do you not remember what My servant David Ring said yesterday? Do you not remember that he has now lived twice as long as he was told he would live? That he has had numerous unexpected disappointments and changes of plan in life? That he has lived his whole life with Cerebral Palsy? That he lost both his parents as a young man?
That he lives in unimaginable pain each and every day? That no doctor has ever told him he would be well in just a few days? Or that no person has ever told him that a hundred bucks or so would solve his problems and that he would then be on his merry way all in less than thirty minutes? And you dare to assert that you are having a bad day!?!?”
Needless to say, in old fashioned terms, I felt like I had just been “taken to the woodshed”! Even worse, I felt like I used to when my own father would choose to talk to me rather than simply spank me, which always hurt much worse. But I was better off for it. And I knew it! Like He did with Jonah under his gourd (Jonah 4) and with Elijah under his juniper tree (I Kings 19), God had broken through my stubborn and selfish outer shell and struck pay dirt down inside my heavy heart.
As a result, with Thanksgiving unfolding, I have been reminded to focus much less on my so-called problems, and much more on my blessings! In truth, God has been very good to me! And I know that I am far less appreciative than I should be! For all of this, I stand convicted. I have expressed this to the Lord. And I wanted to express it here today in my blog as well.
Can you relate? Has God reminded you this week just how blessed you really are? If so, have you taken the time to confess any sin of ingratitude? Have you also taken time to sincerely thank Him for all He has done for you? If not, should you? And if you don’t, how can you possibly celebrate a holiday called "Thanksgiving" anyway?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul reminds us that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” After what I experienced on Monday, all I can say is, “Amen!”, and then do just that: give thanks in all circumstances!
NOTE: David Rings’ message can be found on our church’s web site at: http://www.firstbaptistlc.org/Welcome/media-stuff/sermon-downloads. Brother David’s own web site, with his life story and other resources, can be found here: http://www.davidring.org/.