Charles Spurgeon, the most famous preacher from the Victorian England era, said, “God’s people are prone to engrave their trials in marble and write their blessings in the sand.” Truer words were never spoken. I myself do far too much marble engraving.
Yesterday at our local pastors’ conference, the moderator asked each of us to name at least one thing for which we are thankful. The next twenty minutes or so turned out to be the highlight of the conference. Even though the singing was nice and the weekly sermon was interesting, hearing each pastor talk about the great things that God had done for him was spellbinding. Many of them cried as they spoke. All of them spoke in utter humility. One man told of how Jesus had saved him out of a family of bootleggers. Another talked about how wild he used to be before Christ’s transforming power radically changed his life. Another praised the Lord for meeting every need he had ever had. Another described how God had raised up his alcoholic daddy from a seemingly terminal illness to mercifully give that father more days to accept Christ as Savior and have, for the first time, a true relationship with his son. On and on it went like that around the room, story after story. The next time that you get to thinking that all preachers are fakes, hypocrites, or money hungry manipulators, come with me to a certain pastors’ conference that meets on Monday mornings. I know some men of God who are real.
And what word of thankfulness did I offer up when my turn came? Well, I thanked the Lord for how He broke me when I was in my early twenties. That experience changed me from a backslidden Christian into a sold out disciple and set me on the path to becoming a preacher. I also thanked Him for my wife and two boys. And yes, I was one of those who teared up as he spoke. Needless to say, I could have gone on for an hour naming things for which I am thankful (as each of us could have), but we had to restrain ourselves a bit if the scheduled speaker was going to be left any time to preach.
Everybody knows that Thanksgiving is this Thursday. But why wait until then to go to the Lord in prayer and express your gratitude? Have you got 30 minutes today? Then spend it just going down the list of all the things for which you are thankful. Don’t make any new requests. Don’t mention any of your problems. And put down that marble engraver for a while. Just have a time of saying, “Thank you” to the Lord. If you will make the effort to do this, I promise you that it will get your heart and mind prepared to genuinely celebrate Thanksgiving this coming Thursday.