Happy Thanksgiving (2011)
If you’ve met my wife or my kids or my mother or my in-laws or my Aunts, or been to my Church or met the lawyers I practice law with or spent any time with my friends, then you know that God has blessed me more than anyone deserves and certainly more than I merit. So, the idea of spending Thanksgiving focusing on those things for which I am particularly thankful is a bit of a farce. It is like deciding that this weekend I am going to sit down and really think about and count only the stars in the milky way galaxy. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a day to give more thought to being appreciative, but spending even 5 minutes thinking about what I have to be thankful for opens a flood of Noah-ic proportions.
So, in the spirit of the season, let me give thanks here for a moment without the full flood.
There is a great song that my buddy Ike Graul introduced to me called “Everyday is a Day of Thanksgiving.” In that song, there is a repeated line referring to God that simply says “He keeps blessing me, blessing me, blessing me.” I didn’t write those lyrics, but I could have. So, rather than try to create a list of my blessings for which I am thankful or even to try to choose those things for which I am most thankful, let me simply share a recent example of why for me everyday should be Thanksgiving Day.
Last Thursday night, we traded in the family car for one a little newer and shinier. My wife loved it, the boys loved it and the salesman loved being rid of me. I headed home on a dark and stormy Portland night to pick up the boys and spend the evening driving around, pushing every button and switch like kids with a new toy. Because that is how I felt, like an 8 year old on Christmas.
Three blocks away from the dealership, a very large truck swerved into my lane, made contact with my new car and tore off the front end. There were sparks and a crunching of metal that sounded like someone had turned on a Transformers movie at full volume. Even with a lifetime of blessings, as I stood in the cold rain staring in disbelief at my newly purchased wrecked car, my inner spoiled brat seethed with the self-righteous indignation of perceived misfortune.
Then God kept blessing me, blessing me, blessing me.
I was uninjured. The other driver was uninjured. The 6 month old baby in the other driver’s car was uninjured. The accident was witnessed by a deputy sheriff who offered testify on my behalf if needed. The other driver was friendly and even apologetic and insured. When I drove back to the dealership, they gave me a really nice loaner and got to work on the car right away. When I had to deal with the insurance company, there was no dispute and nothing but good service. Even the folks at the rental car company made sure I got a nice car for Tanya to drive.
You often hear people mutter in times of distress “that’s the story of my life.” Well, this car accident is the story of my life and a metaphor for all I have to be thankful for. In every circumstance, good or bad, God is with me. He protects, encourages and redeems as I struggle to remember how blessed I am.
So, when I say I am blessed, it is not to brag or suggest that bad things do not happen to me and certainly not that it has anything to do with me or something I have done. It is only to give thanks and share with you a fundamental truth of my life. God’s love and grace have not given me things for which to be thankful so much as a life for which gratitude is the only conceivable rational response.
Tomorrow, I am happy to rededicate myself to gratitude. I hope some part of you can relate.