Karyn and I had another one of those great husband/wife conversations the other day–she’s been working hard to remind me of God’s hand of healing in my recovery from brain surgery this past June. Here’s my unique problem—I really can’t remember much of my hospitalization at all–I don’t recall what it really felt like to be paralyzed on my left side, the slurred speech, the swollen and sore tongue after biting down on it during my initial seizure, my inability to eat and swallow for several days after surgery–all this because most of my memory resumes after my transfer to rehab at Marionjoy, where I started walking and using my left side shortly after my arrival (with considerable effort and a lot of help from some great therapists). So,today, as I walk with ease around my house: up and down stairs hands-free, in and out of the car, I can easily take all this amazing, physical progress for granted as I manage my everyday physical existence, and not even be consciously grateful, simply because I’ve forgotten how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time. It’s like my failed memory has robbed me of genuine gratitude for God’s intervention as my body’s Healer–and dare to start taking credit for it myself instead. I am my own Gratitude Thief.
And I am less of a man for it.
Why do we (or I) so quickly take the credit–that nasty, sinful habit of forgetting God’s steady faithfulness in the past, as my Shepherd, Comforter, Guardian, Healer (insert your Divine name of choice here…) for what is not at all my own doing…This brings to mind the message that Brian Stoffer shared from Luke 11:29-32: a couple of Sundays ago at Blanchard Warrenville. Brian is Blanchard Wheaton’s Jr. High Director, (he’s graciously stepped in to join Blanchard’s Teaching Team in large part due to my absence…and doing an excellent job with a very difficult passage, by the way– You can listen here…)
Brian recalled Jesus’ dealings with the increasingly fickle and skeptical crowds following Him (as well as the Pharisees–demanding more miracles and signs for Jesus to prove that He truly was the Son of God–but Jesus refused to perform any more miracles in order to prove His authority–rightly recognizing that the miracles in and of themselves simply would never be enough to lead them to belief. So Jesus recalled the lessons from the Old Testament learned by Jonah and the Queen of Sheba when she visited Solomon to see His world-famous wealth and wisdom first hand, and, upon seeing it all, she readily acknowledged God’s sovereignty in the past and needed no more proof than what her eyes and memories had the capacity to capture and direct, appropriately, to their Source, the God of Israel, Jehovah himself. The bottom line is this: God is just asking us to look around at our world and remember who created its majestic beauty in the first place (as Brian also cites in his good message–see Romans 1-2 in the New Testament for more on the theology of general revelation). And His faithful provision in the past–for our physical health and well-being.
Like that demanding crowd, do we really need another miracle to justify our belief that Jesus is the Christ, the one and only Son of God? Or are we willfully choosing to forget all He’s already done to prove Himself over the years? Will another miracle in the latest crisis really be enough to change the status quo? So how about we stop withholding our gratitude and give it back to the One who’s deserved it all along?
Some of us journal to remember (the older I get the better I understand the wisdom of this–I forget stuff all the time…and it all ends up getting blended innocuously into my own story, where I conveniently take the credit for pulling myself up by my own boot straps, working harder and surviving on my own, all miraculously without God’s gracious kindness. Call this what you want–grand larceny, petty theft–how dare I be so arrogant as to take the credit for my own survival?)
So how’s your memory? Like me, are you withholding your Gratitude from its rightful owner? Whom are you living for? Does Jesus have your heart?
I encourage you to take a moment today to remember His kindness and provision for your life, your health, your breath, your kids, your family, your history--give it all back with gratefulness to Your Loving Creator. He deserves all the credit and the glory.
No more theft, please.