The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. - Psalm 16:6
It's been quite a year for my wife Linda and me. A new grandbaby. A family reunion for the 90th birthday of my mother. A surprise celebration for my 25th anniversary as pastor in this church. A 40th wedding anniversary trip to the Caribbean. Mission trips to Moldova and Nicaragua.
I feel blessed...and maybe a little guilty. Why has my life been so good? Why didn't I die young? Why do I get to lead a supportive and growing church? Why has our health, and that of our children, been stable? My version of "Why me?" is "Why do I have it so good?"
I don't know, but what I'm trying to learn is what to do about it.
First, gratitude. The pleasantness of life points to God's grace. "You hold my lot," sings the psalmist, therefore "I will bless the LORD."
Second, humility. When thoughts of "I worked hard, I made good choices, I took risks, I've gotten what I deserve" enter my mind, I need to yank that rug of arrogance out from under myself and fall flat for a while. I didn't choose the century in which I was born, or my race, my parents, my DNA, my neighborhood, my teachers, or a thousand other influences.
Third, action. I should never "count my blessings" without also listening carefully to those who are struggling, no matter why or with what. A passion for mercy and justice emerges naturally from a soul that has been loved by God unconditionally through Christ.
God of every good and perfect gift, thank you. Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior, you are my true and only hope. Holy Spirit, open my eyes to those who need my blessings to overflow into them. Amen.
Bob Thompson is Pastor of Corinth Reformed Church (UCC) in Hickory, North Carolina, and President of Faithful and Welcoming Churches of the UCC. He posts sermons and other reflections on his blog, corinthpastorbob.com.