You can’t be too thankful

By Gerry Lewis | Published Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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“Be careful!”

This is the second most common two-word phrase that Mrs. Sweetie says to me. It ranks just below “Love you” and just above “Bring coffee.”

OK. I might be exaggerating about the coffee. She doesn’t really say that. It only requires a look! (Every time I almost dig myself out of the hole, I just jump right back in …).

It is actually because she loves me that she tells me to be careful. She wants me to get back home safely when I travel.

She wants me to keep all my fingers when I’m out working in the shop (this is a code word for a building full of stuff, including tools that I have no idea how to use).

She wants me to not fall through the ceiling (which I have done before) when I’m in the attic looking for the carcass of whatever is emitting the non-therapeutic aroma.

She wants me to be able to continue bringing coffee in the morning. (Oops! I did it again …).

There are certain contexts (highways, workshops and attics, to name a few) where you just can’t be too careful.

There are also contexts where you just can’t be too thankful.

And here’s the kicker, I really can’t think of a context where that is not the case.

In my 40 years of church work, I’ve discovered one of the greatest hindrances to legitimate success and significance – in any context – is a lack of gratitude.

During this season of the year, we will talk a good game. We’ll talk about what we’re thankful for as we prepare to indulge in family, food and football. And we may even let it linger for a little while so we don’t get on Santa’s naughty list.

But, far too often, our default is to concentrate on what we are lacking … on the goals we didn’t reach … on the disappointments and sorrows … on how things didn’t go our way … on what we have lost.

I have often thought that some holidays are poor substitutes for what should truly be. What if we treasured and honored our moms and dads every day? We wouldn’t really need Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. What if we treasured and nurtured our marriages every day? We wouldn’t need Valentine’s Day.

What if we lived truly thankful lives? What if we saw our blessings even in the middle of our disappointments. Would we really need Thanksgiving Day?

But looking at it from another angle, maybe we need those days as an intentional reboot of our perspectives. Maybe those days aren’t substitutes, but compasses that help us reorient toward life’s true north.

Maybe one day is a good reminder that the other 364 matter to God and that we can’t be too thankful in any of them.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7 … emphasis mine).

With thanksgiving, I better get the coffee ready. (Oops …).

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur.

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