Here in Europe, if you're smart, you enter a crosswalk looking both ways and praying. Theoretically, the pedestrian has the right of way in these zones if there is no traffic light but don't bet your life on it. My advice is to try to bleed in the crossing zone if you're hit. That way you can prove you were within your rights”"if you are still alive. It not, it will help your heirs get a settlement. Once, when I was in Luxembourg I saw a man crossing the street. A speeding car turned onto this street and the driver saw the pedestrian at the last second. He slammed on his brakes and slammed on his horn, almost in the same action. The man afoot stopped, pointed deliberately down at the crosswalk as if to say, 'Hey, buddy. You're the dummy, not me!”, then continued his merry way. The man behind the wheel fumed and I snickered. It's fun to see inconsiderate louts put in their place.
Another time, my wife and I stopped to let a lady pass and she smiled her thanks at us. 'You don't mind stopping for someone who says thanks,” I remarked to my wife. She owed us no thanks because she was within her rights but her smile made a connection with us. Thankfulness makes a big difference in life. Those who live with an attitude of gratitude notice their blessings. They live humbly because they realize their dependence on God and others. The rest just gripe about what they don't have, forgetting the load of blessings that come their way each day.
Several weeks ago I was reading Romans chapter one and as usual I was repulsed by reading the horrible inventory of sins that Paul lists (Rom. 1:21-32). But suddenly, the first verse on that list jumped up and struck me between the eyes. "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him..." (Rom. 1:21, NIV) The sin that opens the door to all the other sins is not glorifying God as God. We know we're guilty of that when we don't thank Him. We like to emphasize all those other transgressions on the list but when saying thanks is missing in action, the gate stands wide open for all these other sins.
Since then, I've made a sincere effort to stop several times a day to thank the Lord. Sometimes it's a big thing but more often it's small. The result is the same. Saying 'thanks” brings me closer to God, just like that lady's smile of thanks touched our hearts.
Right after Christmas, we got together with all the kids and grandkids for the first time in some years. We followed that up with a visit to my daughter's family in Oklahoma. One morning her three-year old, Caleb, came into the kitchen where I was savoring my morning coffee. This little guy is Mr. Positive. That morning a look of delight lit his face as he said, 'I had an awesome dream last night.” And I lit up inside as I took him in my arms to listen to that 'awesome” dream. Several times since, I've stopped to say 'thank You” to the Lord for that incredible moment. And I've felt the heart of God, because He lights up when I come to Him just like I lit up when my grandson came to me.
We think of lots of things as banal and forget them as soon as they happen, but it seems to me that when I thank the Lord for little things, I become more sensitive to Him and it's easier to praise Him for big things. Are there big things and small things with God? Honestly, my little peanut-sized brain often understands little things better than big things. But the seed of the big thing is in the small thing and if we understand the Lord in small things we can follow that trail to understand even larger truths. Dare I say that there is a spark of the glory of the Cross, the essence of God, in my new grandson, in the snow that covered the city of Epernay in the valley below my house, in the love of my wife, etc.?
Psalm 138 A David Psalm Thank you! Everything in me says "Thank you!" Angels listen as I sing my thanks. I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: "Thank you!" Thank you for your love, thank you for your faithfulness; Most holy is your name, most holy is your Word. The moment I called out, you stepped in; you made my life large with strength. When they hear what you have to say, God, all earth's kings will say "Thank you." They'll sing of what you've done: "How great the glory of God!" And here's why: God, high above, sees far below; no matter the distance, he knows everything about us. When I walk into the thick of trouble, keep me alive in the angry turmoil. With one hand strike my foes, With your other hand save me. Finish what you started in me, God. Your love is eternal”"don't quit on me now. (The Message)
This week's Coffee Stain comes with a homework assignment. For the next three weeks I want you to deliberately stop and think three times each day. Then thank the Lord for something from the bottom of your heart. See if that doesn't draw you closer to the Lord. It works for me. ______________________
Hmmm ... Socrates said : 'The unexamined life is not worth living.” I don't doubt that, but sometimes we examine all of Christ's joy out of our life! If you constantly look inward, you'll find something. If you look upward you'll find Someone. And that Someone has the cure for all those 'somethings.”