Thankfulness with the Country Chaplain

Do not be a turkey. Make sure you are Thankful for your many blessings this Thanksgiving.

By Tim Reeves

Back in 1989, a movie was made starring Kevin Bacon called “The Big Picture.” Bacon played a young man named Nick Chapman who graduated from high school and made a short film, which won a special prize. The award gave Chapman a lot of publicity; enough publicity that he thought he could go to Hollywood, make a big splash and create the movie of his dreams. But when he got to Hollywood, he finds he has to begin making compromises and soon he becomes totally lost in the glitz and glamour of the movie industry. Rather quickly, his dreams of making “his” movie are swept away and lost.

Like the main character, the movie never made much of a splash, either. Produced at a cost of about $5 million, it barely generated $1 million in revenue.

Also, like the title of this movie and its main character, it is so easy to miss “the big picture” of life. At this time of year, when we are soon to be celebrating a national holiday of thanksgiving, failing to see “the big picture” keeps many of us from truly being thankful for the blessings God has given us, especially God‘s interest in our life.

That’s sad, because we have so many examples of individuals who refused to take their eyes off “the big picture” of life and allow the mundane and the nitty-gritty of life to cloud their viewpoint.

For example, one of the lesser-known Biblical characters is Nehemiah, a Jew living in Babylon where he had a wonderful job working for the Babylonian king. Nehemiah was set for life in this job, until he overheard a conversation about how bad things were in his homeland. Nehemiah started praying to God for guidance on what to do about this situation. He believed God wanted him to return to Jerusalem and take on the daunting task of rebuilding the Holy City. Understand, Nehemiah had no experience in building or administration. Eventually he got the king’s permission to leave the royal post so he returned to the dilapidated Holy City. He was depressed by what he found.

Long story short, despite adversity, adversarial threats and outright opposition from neighboring rulers and the tremendous odds, Nehemiah prevailed because he kept a clear vision of “the big picture.” He knew he could not accomplish this task on his own yet he also knew God wanted him to accomplish this task. The key was finding the right balance.

Most folks in the church I know are one of two kinds: we either work like crazy to achieve some task, trusting in our own talents and primarily trying to work on our own, or we sit back and wait, telling ourselves we trust in God to solve all our problems for us and not lifting many fingers to achieve that task until we absolutely, positively have to.

The truth of life is we need to work as hard as we can AND at the same time to trust in God. That’s called balance, and Nehemiah epitomized the marriage of hard work and trust because he kept his eyes open to “the big picture” of what God wanted for his life. Nehemiah is a prime example of how we need to rely upon God’s active working in our life with guidance, wisdom and power when we are faced with daunting tasks that seem overwhelming and insurmountable, while at the same time, using and committing all our talents/gifts/skills God has given us, to achieve that objective or goal. While we blend our work and our trust, we must always recognize the One who gave us both the goal itself and the abilities to achieve that goal.

We are never alone in anything we do in this life, including achievements and awards. Recognizing our partnership with God is called balance; it’s also called humility.

I don’t know if you watched the American League baseball playoffs, but a Texas Ranger team in which few folks believed, obliterated what was supposed to be a much more potent and powerful New York Yankees team. The Most Valuable Player of the series was Ranger outfielder Josh Hamilton. At the conclusion of the final game of the series, Hamilton was interviewed immediately after the game and asked about his MVP award. The first words out of his mouth were to give credit to God for giving him the athletic talent and baseball abilities he displayed, plus he recognized the trust he had in Jesus Christ to help lead him to this point in his life.

Hamilton had a tough time getting to this point. Marked early as a player to watch, addictions and other hurdles kept him from reaching his potential. Like Nehemiah, he’s battled through many different barriers, but his faith, his trust and his ability to keep his eyes focused on “the big picture” helped sustain him and allowed him to achieve the goal set before him by God, again just like Nehemiah.

It’s at times like these when the words of Isaiah 43: 18-19 and Jeremiah 29: 11-14a stand out so clearly for us. “Forget the former things. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?“ is what God told Isaiah and about 100 years later, God told Jeremiah “For I know the plans I have for you….plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you.“

Work hard; give it all you’ve got; use every talent and ability God has given you, trust in the Lord with all your heart and you‘ll find the balance in your life that you need to achieve any goal.

You know, it really doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

Back in 1989, a movie was made starring Kevin Bacon called “The Big Picture.” Bacon played a young man named Nick Chapman who graduated from high school and made a short film, which won a special prize. The award gave Chapman a lot of publicity; enough publicity that he thought he could go to Hollywood, make a big splash and create the movie of his dreams. But when he got to Hollywood, he finds he has to begin making compromises and soon he becomes totally lost in the glitz and glamour of the movie industry. Rather quickly, his dreams of making “his” movie are swept away and lost.

Like the main character, the movie never made much of a splash, either. Produced at a cost of about $5 million, it barely generated $1 million in revenue.

Also, like the title of this movie and its main character, it is so easy to miss “the big picture” of life. At this time of year, when we are soon to be celebrating a national holiday of thanksgiving, failing to see “the big picture” keeps many of us from truly being thankful for the blessings God has given us, especially God‘s interest in our life.

That’s sad, because we have so many examples of individuals who refused to take their eyes off “the big picture” of life and allow the mundane and the nitty-gritty of life to cloud their viewpoint.

For example, one of the lesser-known Biblical characters is Nehemiah, a Jew living in Babylon where he had a wonderful job working for the Babylonian king. Nehemiah was set for life in this job, until he overheard a conversation about how bad things were in his homeland. Nehemiah started praying to God for guidance on what to do about this situation. He believed God wanted him to return to Jerusalem and take on the daunting task of rebuilding the Holy City. Understand, Nehemiah had no experience in building or administration. Eventually he got the king’s permission to leave the royal post so he returned to the dilapidated Holy City. He was depressed by what he found.

Long story short, despite adversity, adversarial threats and outright opposition from neighboring rulers and the tremendous odds, Nehemiah prevailed because he kept a clear vision of “the big picture.” He knew he could not accomplish this task on his own yet he also knew God wanted him to accomplish this task. The key was finding the right balance.

Most folks in the church I know are one of two kinds: we either work like crazy to achieve some task, trusting in our own talents and primarily trying to work on our own, or we sit back and wait, telling ourselves we trust in God to solve all our problems for us and not lifting many fingers to achieve that task until we absolutely, positively have to.

The truth of life is we need to work as hard as we can AND at the same time to trust in God. That’s called balance, and Nehemiah epitomized the marriage of hard work and trust because he kept his eyes open to “the big picture” of what God wanted for his life. Nehemiah is a prime example of how we need to rely upon God’s active working in our life with guidance, wisdom and power when we are faced with daunting tasks that seem overwhelming and insurmountable, while at the same time, using and committing all our talents/gifts/skills God has given us, to achieve that objective or goal. While we blend our work and our trust, we must always recognize the One who gave us both the goal itself and the abilities to achieve that goal.

We are never alone in anything we do in this life, including achievements and awards. Recognizing our partnership with God is called balance; it’s also called humility.

I don’t know if you watched the American League baseball playoffs, but a Texas Ranger team in which few folks believed, obliterated what was supposed to be a much more potent and powerful New York Yankees team. The Most Valuable Player of the series was Ranger outfielder Josh Hamilton. At the conclusion of the final game of the series, Hamilton was interviewed immediately after the game and asked about his MVP award. The first words out of his mouth were to give credit to God for giving him the athletic talent and baseball abilities he displayed, plus he recognized the trust he had in Jesus Christ to help lead him to this point in his life.

Hamilton had a tough time getting to this point. Marked early as a player to watch, addictions and other hurdles kept him from reaching his potential. Like Nehemiah, he’s battled through many different barriers, but his faith, his trust and his ability to keep his eyes focused on “the big picture” helped sustain him and allowed him to achieve the goal set before him by God, again just like Nehemiah.

It’s at times like these when the words of Isaiah 43: 18-19 and Jeremiah 29: 11-14a stand out so clearly for us. “Forget the former things. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?“ is what God told Isaiah and about 100 years later, God told Jeremiah “For I know the plans I have for you….plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you.“

Work hard; give it all you’ve got; use every talent and ability God has given you, trust in the Lord with all your heart and you‘ll find the balance in your life that you need to achieve any goal.

You know, it really doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

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