Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
Recently my wife sent me a text message with the statement, “We are really blessed.” Kathy was thanking God for His blessings to our family. Actually, people don’t always remember to thank God for His goodness in our lives. We can expect good things to happen. So, when we receive blessings it is not uncommon to forget to say “Thank you.” Perhaps this truth touches a place in your heart.
Actually, God’s children are called to be thankful at all times, not just when life goes well, but even in times of challenges and set-backs. St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonika, 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
So, when your car last broke down did you thank God, or did another kind of word escape your lips? When you stubbed your toe, or hit your hand with a hammer, were the thoughts of your heart thanks? It might be even easier to see our shortcomings before our righteous Lord in this situation. It is hard to give thanks when we are facing pain and loss.
There is a reason we can thank the Lord at all times. Psalm 118:1 says, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” God is good and His love blesses our lives forever, even, and perhaps especially, when we face the trials of life. Even when our troubles are caused by our own weakness or sin, God is there to forgive us for the sake of Jesus. “ . . . he is good; his love endures forever.” Even when we face the ultimate defeat of death, God saves for eternal life those who believe in Jesus. “ . . . he is good; his love endures forever.”
Perhaps this idea of thanking God all the time makes sense to us in our minds, but when our car backs into another car, we may still have trouble immediately remembering the goodness of God. And the words that escape our mouths are probably not thanks.
St. John conducted an experiment this year and held Family Camp in place of our traditional Vacation Bible School. I attended and watched about 50 people gather and enjoy the fun of camping as families and friends. What I also saw was parents and children learning about God’s love together, rather than in separate classrooms. For those who attended, Family Camp was a real blessing.
Family Camp was open to all members of St. John and one of those who chose to attend was St. John member James “Bim” Hoylman. You may know Bim. He worked for years as a bagger at Carrs-Safeway. About 5 years ago Bim was hit by a car in the parking lot one day while working and he was severely injured. Bim still suffers pain from the bones that were injured and broken.
Bim needed some help to attend Family Camp so he slept in my tent and I cooked our meals. We explored the lake together and attended Bible Times as a “family.” Bim has some challenges in life, but he can also teach us all some lessons of faith. One lesson I learned from Bim that weekend of camping was the lesson of thanks. He often spoke his prayers to God out loud, and when I was with Bim they were always prayers of thanks. After He asked me to pray for our meal, Bim chimed in, “Thank you, Lord, for our food and the fellowship of this camping trip.” As we went to bed Bim prayed our loud, “Thank you, Lord, for today and for your love.” As we finished Bible Study Bim spoke a spontaneous prayer out loud. “Thank you Lord for your love, and for Jamie who put together this camp.” As we stood looking out at the lake Bim prayed, “Thank you Lord for today and for this fun trip.”
There are many reasons that Bim could complain. He still talks about the chronic pain he has from his injuries. But when I was with Bim on this trip I heard him, time and again, talk personally with God as His friend and Lord. On this trip I never heard Bim tell God of his trials. I only heard words of thanks. There is a famous phrase in Isaiah 11 about the how the world is affected by coming of the promised Messiah. Isaiah writes, “ . . . and a little child will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6 b) Perhaps we can all learn a lesson from the thankful heart of Bim.
Can you look at your life like my wife did, and considering God’s blessings, can you also say, “We are really blessed.”? In the midst of the trials of life can you echo the words of Bim, “Thank you, Lord.”? “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
A Child of God, Thankful for the Lessons of a Friend,
P.S. Here are some pictures from the baptism on Sunday of Everett Gogert, infant son of Lucas and Martha Gogert, grandson of St. John members Dave and Carla Gogert and Richard and Donna Firmstone. https://goo.gl/photos/xKDiJzzvjPDmXbey9 and https://goo.gl/photos/MBp8gjiqV2ZBNZWh6
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.