Gratitude: When what you have is enough

Chuck Tabor - Contributing columnist

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? It’s only a week away, you know.

Some months ago, my bride and I decided we would do something a little bit different this Thanksgiving. We decided to host a Thanksgiving meal for any of our neighbors and friends who had no place to go, no family around to spend it with, or no opportunity to serve someone else on this holiday.

Once we put the word out, we received many positive responses and, if all goes according to the current plan, this Thanksgiving we will be hosting a sit-down dinner for 21 people in our small home here in Florida.

The sheer number of positive responses has just about sent the lady I live with into a tailspin with a myriad of questions: “How will we ever seat that many here? Will we have enough food? What will we do AFTER we eat?”

Now, mind you, she is super-organized and very open to doing this wonderful feat. But she is also one who wants to have all the details worked out no less than a month in advance!

And she gets a little peeved with me always singing to her that refrain, “Don’t worry! Be happy!”

Some years ago, one of the morning news shows ran an item about a 100-year-old woman who at that age was still working as a copy editor for a newspaper in Independence, Missouri. She has been working there for 35 years and began there after retiring at age 65 as a public school teacher!

She said in the interview that she felt that the mandatory retirement age was too young — that it should be 75 instead!

I like that lady’s spunk, don’t you?

How does she manage to survive? Her story reminded me of a dear widow who had successfully raised a very large family — six of her own youngsters plus twelve others whom she and her husband had adopted!

Through it all she had maintained not only stability in her home but also had reared those children in and with an air of confidence that they could succeed in life no matter what.

When asked in an interview what she thought was the secret of her outstanding accomplishment, her answer to the newsman was quite surprising.

She said, “I managed so well, because I’m in a partnership!”

“What do you mean?” the reporter inquired.

The woman responded, “Many years ago, I said, ‘Lord, I’ll do the work and You do the worrying.’ And I haven’t had an anxious care since.”

Chuck Swindoll calls the sin of worry — yes, it is a sin — the “subtle enemy of simple faith”, and it seems to plague every one of us.

It matters not what the issue is: Whether it is the national political scene (or the election recounts in Florida!), whether distress over finances, ulcers over relationships, or maybe such a simple thing as taking an exam in school or competing in an athletic event, worry seems to hound us consistently, doesn’t it?

In fact the term “worry” as used in the New Testament means “a divided mind”, and that is exactly what worry does for us — it divides our mind and attention so that we concentrate on things which distract us from what is really important. We get angry over mostly wrong things and ignore mostly right things.

We wonder why things just do not seem to go our way.

In his encounter with Mary and Martha in Luke 10, Jesus challenged Martha, who was more worried about the beans being served than the beauty of another encounter with the Savior, by telling her that there really is only one important thing that is absolutely necessary for life, and that is being with Him and enjoying His very presence. (Check it out in Luke 10:38-42)

As we embark on another holiday season, which also includes Thanksgiving, we are constantly under the bombardment of advertisers and others to do more, spend more, bake more, eat more, buy more, visit more, and, as a result, to worry more!

The other day we were doing some shopping for some craft items (my bride is quite “crafty”, you know!) in one of those large craft supply stores. Whenever I go into one of those stores with her, while she is shopping for whatever she is looking for, I will mostly walk laps in progressively smaller concentric circles (rectangles?) through the aisles of the store until either I get to the center of the store, or she finds me and is done shopping.

On this particular day, in my circuitous wanderings I meandered by the posters and art section of the store and found a perfect expression for what I am talking about.

The picture was crafted with a message that said simply, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”

Now before you dismiss that expression as a corny slogan signifying nothing, may I suggest that gratitude, that is, “thanksgiving”, is the solution for a lot of the worrying we tend to do over almost anything.

Being thankful for just about everything we deal with every day will help us not to worry about the details of living – whether they be politics, or relationships, or health, or work, or school, and in the process will simplify our lives.

And true gratitude begins by thanking God for the life He has given you and (hopefully!) the new life He has provided for you in Christ!

Let’s get together this Thanksgiving and Christmas and agree to simplify — by getting back to the basics of concentrating on being with the Savior. Instead of always wishing for more, thank God for what you have and watch it be enough! Yes, you might even repeat that simple prayer: “Lord, I’ll do the work, You do the worrying!”

You know something? If you pray that prayer, He WILL!!!

And you’ll enjoy this holiday season more than ever!

God bless…

Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.

Chuck Tabor

Contributing columnist