Make an effort to keep a thankful heart

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Presumption and assumption are somewhat related. They both carry the idea of taking things for granted. Most of us are masters at presuming and assuming things. Perhaps with all the changes taking place in our country — especially the spiritual decline — God is teaching us not to presume or assume anything. As our liberties continue to be stripped from us, and darkness, immorality and corruption abound, perhaps we will appreciate what we still have (and had in the past), will stand up and fight for the right.

I’ve said on occasion, “We didn’t know how good we had it.” I just thought it would always be the same. Never did I dream in my lifetime that I’d see the degree of deception and decadence we’re seeing. “This present darkness,” as one author calls it, has opened my eyes to the reality of taking things for granted. And not only spiritual things, but everyday blessings that seem so commonplace — such as flipping on a light switch, running water, and a car to drive. Huxley summed it up: “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.” And it was Emerson who observed: “If the stars came out only once a year, everybody would stay up all night to behold them. We have seen the stars so often that we don’t bother to look at them anymore. We have grown accustomed to our blessings.”

As never before, may the Lord grant us eyes to see and minds to grasp the numerous blessings we enjoy and fully appreciate them. May we learn from the children of Israel in Numbers 11: God had miraculously sent them manna from heaven to eat in the wilderness. It wasn’t long before they began to take it for granted, complaining and becoming discontented. They even pined for Egypt, forgetting the awful oppression they’d endured. Had it not been for Moses, God’s judgment upon the people would have been conclusively drastic. Oh, that God would raise up people like Moses who would “stand in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30) for our backslidden country, and lead us into a deeper spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude.

The following story seems to depict the attitude of which I speaks:

Carol decided she wanted to do something nice for her neighbor, Mrs. Smith, so she baked a pie and carried it next door. Mrs. Smith was surprised to see her holding a pie. She replied, “For me? Oh, thank you so much! You just don’t know how much I appreciate it. You are so thoughtful. Thank you.” Because Mrs. Smith liked the pie so much, Carol decided to bake her another. When she took it over, Mrs. Smith said, “Thank you so much. You are so kind!” Carol took another pie over the following week. Mrs. Smith simply replied, “Thanks.” Carol took another pie over, and Mrs. Smith responded, “You are a day late with that pie.”

The following week, Carol baked her another. This time her neighbor said, “Try using a little more sugar and don’t bake it quite as long. The crust has been a little bit hard lately. And I’d like cherry instead of apple filling next time.” The next week Carol was so busy, she was unable to cook for her neighbor. When Carol passed by on the way to the store, Mrs. Smith noticed she wasn’t carrying a pie. She stuck her head out the window and yelled, “Where’s my pie?!”

Kent Crockett observes: “It’s so easy to get used to our blessings. After enjoying them for a while, we begin to think we deserve them. Then instead of being thankful, we complain. It’s a process that occurs so slowly, we don’t even realize it’s happening.” Indeed, in the words of Chesterson, “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

As we contemplate this word, may our hearts be humbled at the mercy and kindness of God toward us in blessing us in so many ways, particularly the opportunity to find salvation and have the hope of eternal life. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” (II Cor. 9:15) That Gift is Jesus Christ, the blessed Son of God — given for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. Do you know Him as your personal Savior and Lord? He calls to you, “Come unto Me!” (Matt. 11:28) Thanksgiving will become “Thanks living” when you receive His abundant life.

The Rev. Jon Van Vogt is pastor of the Flour Mill Fellowship and director of the Pataha Flour Mill near Pomeroy. He is also pastor of SonRise Church in Clarkston, Wash. Email him at patahaflourmills@gmail.com or call him at 509-951-5351.

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