(First published in 2010)
I am not nearly as thankful as I ought to be. The two most important days of my life I often take for granted. The First Day was the day that Christ died for my sins. Jesus took the punishment for every one of my sins, even the ones I haven’t committed yet. Dreadful thought that I would live as in ingrate! Glorious thought that he would die anyway! That one day alone should be enough to cause me to live every moment in continuous Thanksgiving. Righteous Christ died for me, the ungodly.
But there was another Day. The Day I first believed. In spite of my sin, God drew me to Himself and I looked to Christ. What a happy and joyous day! – O! Glorious Grace! Life was given to me: one dead in my trespasses and sins. I was hard-hearted and stubborn and only inclined to go my own way, but God, by His free will, changed me, opened my eyes and granted unto me the gifts of faith and repentance. Blessed be the God of all grace!
But today, I want to give thanks for all the things he did for me between the Day Christ Died and the Day I believed.
First, God watched over all of my ancestors. I am fond of joking with people that if their parents didn’t have any children, they won’t either. But it is really more profound than that. If any of my ancestors didn’t have any children then I wouldn’t exist. 20 centuries of mothers, perhaps 65 generations or more, delivered babies healthy enough to survive into adulthood. They had to refuse the pressure to abort their own children in the womb, with a pessary or knife. Others killed them as infants, shortly thereafter, as many do murder their own offspring, even today. And the fathers had to plant the seed of my existence before they were killed in war or due to the plots of some dictator. No doubt some of them had accidents that nearly claimed their lives. But God spared them (and me). Plagues or earthquakes wiped out entire cities, but not the cities of my ancestors.
Second, God Had a plan, and it included me. It was no accident. Those who fight against predestination miss all the Providence God used to bring about His plan, not just for the world, but for every one of His own.
But the grace extends not just to watching over my bloodline, but over the gospel. Tyrants have tried stomping it out without success. Seducers have wooed men astray. However, when I was young, Byesville Assembly of God Sunday School teachers like Carl Dyer, Dave Ankrom, Louise Woodford, and others shared the gospel with me. How did I end up in their classes? How was it that youth pastors like Greg Black and Dave Watson showed me the Way? And the Wootton family was such an example of Godly living. Why did God send them my way, or rather, send me their way? And pastors like Ken Littlefield and Dan Ball, faithfully preached the gospel in a church where my mother sent me.
But for the purposes I see today, it is much greater than this. For who taught them the Way? I can thank God that not only he taught me the gospel and applied it to my heart by the Holy Spirit, but that He saved others before that, who would later teach me. The process goes back at least 2000 years. Perhaps in a few cases, no human preacher was directly involved. Maybe it was a gospel tract or Bible left in some location, such as when the Gideon’s place Bibles in hotel rooms or someone finds a Bible on the bookshelf at a Salvation Army or at a garage sale. But, human hands aside, surely it was the guiding Hand of God’s Providence that lead that particular ancestor to read the tract or peruse the Bible.
I could certainly go on and on, a thousand times further, sharing the grace with which God displayed to this poor man. But I must pause now, to Give Thanks.