by ProfDave, ©2022

(Nov. 23, 2022) — In recovery we are urged to keep a gratitude list.  If you are depressed, and don’t really want to get out of bed in the morning, list three things you are thankful for – or even one.  It is guaranteed to help.  Hmmm. 

Start with a warm bed – especially on a morning like this.  There are many in our world that have no bed at all – and no roof over their heads.  “I complained because I had not shoes – until I met a man who had no feet.”  Personally, I am so blessed to have an in-law suite in my daughter’s home – luxurious by my standards – with most of my loving family around me.  From my bedroom window I can see the birds at my feeder, lawn, garden, field and forest.  Sometimes there are deer or wild turkeys.  “The lines have fallen unto me in good places.”  How about you?  Do you have a roof and a bed?  Does the heat work?  And the war outside is only rhetorical?

I woke up singing this morning, “Oh, the chains are released, I can sing ‘I am free!’ Yet not I but through Christ in me” (Michael Farren).  The human condition is broken, and so am I.  I, like everybody else, was born mortal, messed up physically, untethered emotionally, my wiring loose, my feelings out of control, and spiritually disconnected from my Maker.  And things went downhill from there.  I was introduced to Jesus at an early age, but it took 60 years to realize that I couldn’t fix myself up to please Him on my own.  When I finally admitted my brokenness, 13 years ago in a Celebrate Recovery men’s group, He broke my chains!  The Lord is still working on me, helping me learn not to try to do it all myself, but those chains are gone!  You see, it isn’t about my hard work and saintliness, but Jesus at work in me.  And in Celebrate Recovery I have forever brothers and sisters with me on the journey to the Celestial City.  I am so thankful to be free!  Are you?

One of the favorite things in my past was the great privilege of reading to my children and grandchildren.  Favorites: “There’s a monster at the end of this book,” Dr Seuss, Chronicles of Narnia, Christmas Carol and many more.  How about yours?

I am supremely grateful for my children – even as adults – and grandchildren – adults, too.  Yes, children produce a bit of pain, heartache, stress and drama from time to time, but the value they add to our lives is incalculable.  I still have both my children and my three grands nearby – three in the same house!  How privileged is that!  A baby is a message from God that He wants the world – and your heritage – to go on.  Treasure them: the future depends on them.  And O those moments with my little girl on my lap and a book in my hand, jumping up and down on the sideline when my boy nailed a goal or blocked a shot, hiking in the woods with my grandson Preparing for Adolescence, and those road trips one-on-one.  Do you have golden memories like those?  Will you?  So thankful!

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them” (Psalm 127:3-5a)!  Even when your quiver quivers.

My real gratitude list is long and detailed – in fact I have three on my refrigerator from past years.  However, I need to wind this up in order to blog it before Thanksgiving (US – I have already missed Canada).  We can only touch the high points – the mega-gratitude categories.  You should stop for a moment while thawing the turkey to jot down your own list.  At least you have a turkey, don’t you?  Maybe you don’t even like turkey, LOL.  A gratitude list will do your heart good – more good than all that stuffing.

Immeasurably, “beyond all you can ask or imagine,” I am thankful for my eternal Savior and Friend. 

           What gift of grace is Jesus my Redeemer! …

           He is my joy, my righteousness and freedom

                     My steadfast love, my deep and boundless peace.

           To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus,

                     For my life is wholly bound to His.

           Oh how strange and divine, I can sing, ‘all is mine’ –

                     Yet not I but through Christ in me.  (Michael Farren)

Yes, because He took the punishment I deserve for my rebellion, my contempt of court against the Judge and Creator of all things, I may enter the presence of the Holy One and live – eternally.  That is redemption – but there is [gasp] even more.  Left as I am, I would still have a chronic tendency to do the wrong thing.  But!  I am on the carpenter’s bench being prepared day by day for my life above.  One day I will be right inside and out and act like it.  It takes crisis and process, but it isn’t my work but His!  He is my righteousness.  That is called sanctification.  Meanwhile I am bathed in His love and the love of my forever brothers and sisters – in Celebrate Recovery and in church.  That is fellowship.  It all gives me “deep and boundless peace.”  I do not even have to fear death: it is the gate to the Celestial City. 

So thankful!  “All is mine!”  Getting homesick.  How about you?

David W. Heughins (“ProfDave”) is Adjunct Professor of History at Nazarene Bible College. He holds a BA from Eastern Nazarene College and a PhD in history from the University of Minnesota. He is the author of (2020). He is a Vietnam veteran and is retired, living with his daughter and three grandchildren in Connecticut.

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