Thursday, December 30, 2021

Remember Gratitude

My, oh my, ladies and gentlemen, time to wrap up, not another week or another month, but another year. Can you believe it -- 2021 is rapidly coming to a close! What are you grateful for? What am I? I say this all the time, but I truly believe that gratitude is a game changer in life. It can change your entire perspective in a nanosecond. 

Can you recall the good old days when you just graduated from high school and were filled with hopes and dreams? How you couldn't wait to see how your life unfolded before you? How you prayed and sought counsel from others as to the right path the Lord wanted you to take with your time on this earth? When you had your whole life ahead of you and felt there were no limitations on what you could accomplish? Oh my, I remember those days like they were yesterday. 

Fast forward to 2021. What a great year it was for me career-wise. There are a million things to be thankful for. One amazing thing were the number of courses I taught this spring, which turned out to be my final semester of fulltime teaching. My normal course load has always been 3 classes per semester, but between January and May I taught 7 -- count 'em! -- 7 classes, 6 on campus and 1 in Israel via Zoom, followed by 4 weeks of teaching summer school. It felt great. Yes, retirement came as a surprise to me, but that's the thing about gratitude. We are to give thanks in all circumstances of life because that's God's will for our lives (1 Thess. 5:18). The true measure of a man's character is how he deals with adversity. A recurrent theme of my life in the past year has been to show gratitude whenever I can no matter the circumstances. Life can throw us for a loop sometimes, but it's infinitely easier if we're grateful for the good and look past the setbacks. I have a good friend who is always seeing the good in all that is going on. His text messages are such an encouragement and model for me. Gratitude really does matter. As a 69-year old, with a little bit of life behind me, I am truly convinced that if you're grateful for your current state in life, no one can take your inner joy away from you. 

Gratitude wins, each and every time. 

We mustn't cave in to the whims of the world. We must remain grateful. This old body of mine sometimes struggles to pound the pavement, but I am so grateful for the days I can get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of God's creation. Life truly does get better with age because we begin to see how the small things in life have as much value as the large accomplishments. We must remember gratitude, for if we don't we will become desert islands in the middle of the ocean, alone and lonely. I thank God for everything I have and own and thank him for giving me a family that supports my dreams of running in some really challenging races. With struggle comes growth, and having that perspective gives you a chance to change and grow. 

Dear friend, remember gratitude. This makes you a better person to yourself and others. Always find ways to enjoy the journey. Take nothing for granted, ever. Embrace the disappointments of life. You will be stronger and better because of them. I still believe what I have always believed, that God is extraordinarily good, and that his presence in our lives is like nothing else on this earth. My prayer for you is not only that your 2022 will be filled with many good things, but that even in the most disappointing moments you will find the deep and enduring power of gratitude.