Yesterday was a pretty great day. Not only was it Thanksgiving Day, it also happened to be my birthday--a happy coincidence that occurs every few years.
Because of this, I went off of my diet for the whole day and just ate whatever I wanted. You see for health reasons I've been on a pretty hard core diet that doesn't include sugar, starch, most dairy products--in other words, anything good. So yesterday I fell off the wagon and bounced down the road a piece.
Whenever I started to feel guilty I would say to myself, "What the heck, it's THANKSGIVING and MY BIRTHDAY!" My oldest son told me several times, "Go ahead man! You deserve this!" I would subsequently agree with him that I did indeed deserve whatever it was that I was about to consume, and would do so without reservation.
At some point yesterday, I started thinking about that phrase, "You deserve this." I paused and just took in everything and everyone around me for a moment. And I asked myself, "Do I really? Do I really deserve this?"
We happen to be at my in-laws house in Maggie Valley, North Carolina--which is one of my favorite places in the world to be. I went for a walk with my wife and father-in-law and watched my youngest son run, play, throw rocks and imagine in the forest around us--just like his older brothers had when they were his age.
This place holds so many memories for Merideth and I. We've been coming here since we were high school sweethearts, then as newlyweds, young parents--throughout our entire life together. It has marked the milestones in our lives. I've celebrated a few birthdays here, and more than one Thanksgiving.
And as I took all of this in, I realized something: I don't deserve this--any of this. I was born in the greatest country in the world, to loving God-fearing parents. I met the love of my life when I was young, and God brought us together again when it mattered. I have three incredible boys, who light up my life. I get to serve as pastor to an amazing church, and I get to proclaim the Good News from the pulpit on Sundays.
When I think of all the dumb stuff I have done in my life, and all of the ways that these blessings I enjoy could have easily slipped away or been narrowly missed---it brings me to my knees. I don't deserve this--any of this. But because of God's grace, it has been given to me.
During this week of Thanksgiving I would have to say that I am most grateful for God's incredible grace. Without God's grace, I would be a shell of the man I am. Without God's grace, I would not know the kind of peace, joy, love and hope that I experience on a daily basis as I stumble after Jesus.
May you spend the rest of this day praising and giving thanks to God for his incredible and loving grace. May you count your blessings, and give them back to God as thank-offerings in gratitude for the grace that supplied them to you. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and forever, Amen.