Every Thanksgiving I remember the crisp air, turkey, and football of my youth. There were no league championships or state playoffs. There was something bigger, the Turkey Day game with your arch rival. I remember the cool, sunny, Thanksgiving mornings at the stadium, with my friends. If you had a date you bought her a corsage with school colors. We cheered on our Liberty High School Hurricanes against the William Allen High School Canaries. One of my favorite pictures in my senior year book is of the Turkey Day game. There is Ron Mohap or Ron Kline struggling to break a tackle and cross the goal line. The picture captures everything about the event, the teams, the fans, the sunny, crisp air with the scents of autumn.
My memories are filled with things so often taken for granted–air, sun, autumn, friends, time to play, school, prosperity, food. Dale Pauls wrote a church bulletin article a few years back entitled “98%”. Optimism and pessimism are expressed in the proverb–seeing the glass as half full or half empty. For most of us the issue is not half, rather it is whether we see the glass as 98% full or 2% empty. “It’s just we take the 98% of our life that’s working well completely for granted. And we get fixated on the other 2%.” I get frustrated at the self-check out when this machine tells me I have put an unidentified item in the bag. My frustration builds as I focus on this unreasonable machine of convenience. I take for granted the money I have to buy the groceries, the wonder of having a store with so much food on its shelves, and my wife who is waiting patiently at home to fix my supper. The 2% becomes my focus, not the 98%.
Learning to be thankful for the 98%, to see the 2% in the light of the 98%, this is the challenge for us. Thanksgiving is more than crisp air, turkey, and football. It is more than a national holiday. Thanksgiving is more than a religious duty in prayer. Thanksgiving is an attitude of life. It is the blessed living attentively to their blessings. It is learning to notice the 364 good suppers and to ignore the one burnt piece of chicken. It is learning to see the source of all that is good in our lives. It is learning to see Him who never forsakes us in those tragic times of life that cruelly reverse the percentages. Thanksgiving is thanking God for being God.
Lord, when I was sixteen the crisp air, turkey, football, and all the good of my life were the way things were supposed to be. I took it all for granted. Help me now to notice the daily good and to be grateful. Help me not to take for granted my wife, my family, my friends, the car starting this morning, the bed I sleep in, the church, my ability to walk, and so much more. Lord help me to notice with gratitude the 98% of my life that is full of your blessings. Lord help me to see your continuing love working to bring me through the 2%. More than all of this, Lord help me to live in thanksgiving for the salvation you have given out of the riches of your mercy and love in Jesus Christ.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).