I thought I’d take a moment and publicly be thankful for some of the gifts that are present in my life right now that I don’t really deserve:
MY WIFE. For those of you who are in tune with what’s going on in our family, you’ll understand this on a deeper level: my wife is a jewel. The way she is processing and progressing through her journey amazes me on a regular basis. I don’t say that even to imply that she’s perfect, to say we don’t fight, or that we live outside of tension or conflict. We fight. We live with certain tensions. She knows and I know that she’s not perfect. Conflict and perfection are far from the issue. I’m so thankful for is two things: 1. She loves me through my strengths and weaknesses and 2. She loves Jesus and lets Him speak into her life and change her.
MY PARENTS. My parents weren’t perfect and for a period of time I reminded them of this on a regular basis. The scriptures tell us that God’s love is unrelenting, that He never stops pursuing us. My parents demonstrated that love to me. They never quit loving me, caring for me, or parenting me. This past weekend they sacrificed their Saturday to drive down and help me accomplish something. I’m thankful they never stopped loving, because it framed for me a perception of love that never quits. I know that in my marriage love can’t quit and ultimately I know that God’s love never quits on me because of how they have loved me.
PLAYING MUSIC WITH MY FRIENDS AT CHURCH. Just about every Sunday I show up at our church in Irmo, SC and get to play music with some of the best musicians in our city. For the last nine months to a year, every time I take the stage with them I have a moment where I realize just how great it is to be able to do what I do with them. I’ve played music in different venues since I was a teenager. I’ve been privileged to be a part of groups, teams, and churches that were incredible. As a younger dude, I didn’t realize what a privilege it was.
MINISTRY & OUR CHURCH: I have lots of friends in ministry. I grew up in Student Ministry that sent an absurd amount of us out into ministry from a small church in small town North Carolina, went to Bible College with lots of guys who are now in the ministry, and have made friends with quite a few guys who do what I do in our city. I hear a lot of them talk about their passion for their calling and their ministry. I know their hearts: they love Jesus and want to see people know Him and grow in Him. I also hear them talking about a generic disconnect with their church and the leadership in their church. I’m not saying I’ve never been there. I have. I’m not there now. I love our church. I love what we do. I love that I get to be a part of it. For the first time in my ministry I haven’t lived with a tension in wishing church was done a little differently. We are the church I want to be a part of. In the past few months we’ve made plans that will take make our church functionally a multi-site, multi-campus church with campuses in three cities and online. This whole process is exciting and intimidating, and that pretty much explains my journey at our church. It has stretched, challenged, and grown me, and all that is consequently making me a better person, Christ-follower, and minister. I’m so very thankful for that.
JESUS, MY GREAT LORD AND SAVIOR. Obviously, you’d think Jesus should appear on this list. There were times in my life that He wouldn’t have. So much of my life has been spent in generic thankfulness to Jesus, where I haven’t specifically recognized His hand on my life and given Him the credit and thanks He really deserves. I would imagine that if you framed my relationship with Him just on the words spoken, all He heard for seasons was that I was thankful for the food I was eating. I have to say my eyes have been open. There’s very little that happens to me anymore that I don’t recognize God’s hand in. I am learning to be thankful for the tension and the trials, because they produce something in me that wouldn’t come otherwise. I’m thankful for the ways that He continually keeps me, not just from unseen evil, but from myself. I’m thankful that He loves me and shows Himself when I need Him. I’m thankful that He is saving me, ultimately from eternal death and is delivering me to eternal life, but in small way every day I see Him saving me, transforming me, and conforming me into the His image, which is something far more beautiful that I could ever be on my own.