Okay, I don’t mean for this to be just another, “It’s Thanksgiving so we must write about being thankful,” but there are four things for which I am so very grateful, grateful in the extreme, if you will. In most of my prayers I have a hard time getting beyond, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” At times I’m driving along, or walking the girls (my Golden and Cocker) and I just stop and grimace at my old life, and almost sing with gratitude that He has — and is — changing me.
Seventeen years ago God turned the Light on in my life, and although I was immediately thankful, there was no way to fully appreciate, at the time, what He had done for me. Now, though I see through a mirror dimly, I do see with more and more clarity what a wonderful rescue it was.
Did you know that the name Jesus means The Lord rescues? That is what Jesus does. He rescues us: first from our sins, then from ourselves, and thankfully He also rescues our loved ones from who we were.
I’m grateful that Jesus rescued my daughter — and those who love me — from the man I was. You see, I loved my daughter more than life, and would have given her the world. I doted on her, lavished her with attention, and was determined for her to know her daddy cherished her. But, and this is a colossal but!, I had little interest in her knowing that her heavenly Daddy loved and cherished her even more.
Now all of you, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, even grandparents, this is crucial. I was modeling for her a father who had the wrong ideals. Oh sure, I was active at church, helping little old ladies across the street, volunteering and all that, but she would have grown up with a father who, after her, cared mostly about himself. The man who has more impact on her life than anyone else, would have modeled the culture and the cares of this world; a father who would have modeled a life of anxiety, tempered only when things went his way.
And she would have sought out a husband just like that. Worst, she would never have seen a father who was softened, a father who, with all his faults, was changed and is continually being transformed. A father who is eternally grateful for the endearing rescue that was Jesus.
I thank God that He rescued me from my sins. I was the worst kind of lost: lost and didn’t even know it; blind and yet thought I was seeing with spectacular 20-20 vision. But then Jesus gave me spiritual vision.
Jesus then said, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.” John 9:39
I was walking straight towards a cliff — a cliff with a devastating drop – and whistling all the way. So every day — and I do mean e-v-e-r-y day — I thank Jesus for rescuing me from my sins.
I thank God that He saved me from myself. I was my own king. And I have no doubt that many of you are, too. So each Sunday when we drone out, Your kingdom come, what we really mean is, “Hey God, when I need you, I want you to be the warrior king and make all my troubles go away. But until then, I’m willing maybe to give you a corner of the seat on my throne. Just don’t expect me to give up the whole seat!”
There can only be one king in a kingdom, and I was the Supreme Potentate. I had my fuzzy Shriner’s hat on, and was ruling … myself. What a puny kingdom that was! I was stumbling around in the darkness. Yet Jesus rescued me from being a captive of my own kingdom.
… giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:12-14
Finally, I’m grateful that I’m grateful. Are you? Do you carry with you a sense of rescue? Are you overwhelmed –yes, overwhelmed — that God stooped down to capture back from your sin and from yourself? If not, one of two things is true: either you haven’t been rescued, and are still king of your kingdom — a dangerous spot; or you are still a captive of yourself. Don’t mean to be harsh, but: Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7