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How hard is it to take something for granted?  Actually, it’s about as easy as it gets!  It’s no trouble whatsoever for us to begin viewing an incredible gift or abundant blessing as some sort of entitlement or guarantee.  All we have to do is possess it for a while, and it soon becomes a “given” in our minds and attitudes, a presumptuous expectation that it will always be there.  However, life’s unpredictable circumstances frequently serve as a system of “checks and balances” to jerk us back into a greater sense of reality and to rekindle a proper appreciation for the blessings in our lives.

My most recent “Took That for Granted, Now Didn’t You, Tim?” lesson was provided by a lack of air conditioning in my car.  For the most part, I’ve lived in an air-conditioned world, with the exception of the house where I lived in Liberia for two years as a boy and my apartment in Australia as a young adult.  Actually, the apartment where Kim and I lived for three years in Hawaii wasn’t air conditioned either, but who cares?  It was in Hawaii!  Other than those brief stints, my life has been blessed with an abundance of artificially cool air.

In the fall of 2010, the A/C went out in my car.  I planned to use my tax refund the next spring to get it fixed before the summer of 2011 arrived.  However, on Hannah’s first trip home from college after the weather warmed up, she told me that her car’s air conditioning wasn’t working.  So, I did the fatherly thing and used the money I had set aside to have her system repaired.  That’s just what we parents do for our kids, right?  I stuck it out through the heat of the summer of 2011…. and 2012 …. and 2013.  Don’t feel too sorry for me.  It only got up to 114 degrees those first two summers.  Oh, and did I mention the black leather interior?  That helped a lot!

On the hottest days the last three summers, I overcame the temptation to complain by reminding myself that I was extremely blessed to have a car at all, and one that, mechanically speaking, worked quite well.  It faithfully and regularly got me from Point A to Point B, which is what it was designed to do.  I was doubly blessed by the luxury of owing two vehicles.  I lived in an air-conditioned home, worked in an air-conditioned office, and shopped in air-conditioned stores.  I had more than enough food to eat.  I had clothes on my back (my stuck-to-the-car-seat, sweaty back!).  What right did I have to complain?

I got my car’s air conditioning repaired this week.  I can’t believe how cold the air is.  Yet, it probably won’t be very long before I just turn it on and ride in comfort without a passing thought of thankfulness.

Don’t let that happen with the greatest blessings in your life: your relationship with Jesus, your spouse, your children, your parents, your friends, your church family, your job, your co-workers, and all the physical blessings you enjoy.

Let the important people in your life know how much you love, appreciate, and treasure them.  Start with the Lord and work your way down the list!

Gratitude

I am thankful for an awesome, powerful, loving, and just Creator who made me in His own image with the intention of sharing a relationship with me as His child for all eternity.

I am thankful that when I squandered and severed that relationship by my own foolishness, willfulness, selfishness, and sinfulness, He acted yet again to seek me and save me through His gift of grace and mercy in His Son, Jesus Christ.

I am thankful for the eternal Son of God, the Logos, the Word who became flesh, who laid down His life as an unblemished and spotless sacrifice for my own mountain of sins and for those of the world.  I am thankful that through His precious blood I have been forgiven, redeemed, restored, renewed, and revived.

I am thankful for the divine, indwelling Holy Spirit whose unfailing presence within me serves as a mark of identification that I belong to God, as a down payment and pledge of my eternal inheritance, and as an empowering incentive to live in holiness.

I am thankful for a wife of 25 years who has loved, supported, and encouraged me through times of both smooth sailing and troubled seas, not because of my goodness, but in spite of my weaknesses, and who has been an incomparable nurturer, guide, and mother to our children.

I am thankful for the joy and blessing of two precious children, each of whom, in their uniqueness, giftedness, and expressiveness, have enriched my life beyond measure.

I am thankful for friends who have embraced me and accepted me, warts and all, and who have extended their faithful friendship to me, not on the basis of my role of ministry in the body of Christ, but based on who I am as a person and as a Christian brother.

I am thankful for the local body of believers of which I am a part and among whom I serve, for our shepherds, for my co-workers in ministry, and for every servant-hearted member of this family.  I am thankful for every precious, beloved brother and sister with whom I have been blessed to serve in years past in other states and other countries.  I am thankful for the innumerable lights in this world and salt upon this earth that I will not be blessed to meet until this passing world is done.

I am thankful for daily bread, the warmth and protection of my home, clothing, transportation, the tranquility of life and the freedoms afforded by living in this country and for the untold sacrifices of those who have served and are serving to ensure them.

Thank you, Father! And please forgive me in those moments when I forget just how immeasurably blessed I am.

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