I’ve attended far too many funerals recently; however, doing so has caused me to reflect on people who have had an influence on my life. In saying that, I want you also to think about persons you have known over the years who have been a great spiritual influence in your life. Think about the special persons you have known over the years who were strongly, wonderfully, and obviously connected to God and the church. My guess is that however many persons may have come into your mind, they all have possessed the same three qualities. They have all been grateful, gracious, giving people. Over my next three Epistle articles, I want us to take a look at these three amazing signs of connectedness to God and see how we are doing.
First of all, there is gratitude. You know, I have never known a greedy person who was a happy person. People who always want more and more are always unhappy because nothing they have is ever enough. On the other hand, I have never met a grateful person who was not a happy person. Happiness comes not from getting every single thing you want, but from being grateful for what you have.
Early in life our parents and teachers remind us to say “Thank you” and to demonstrate our appreciation, but as time goes by, we forget and we become more sophisticated, more cynical, and more calloused by life. Let me show you what I mean. A few weeks ago, I saw this poster entitled Big Mud Puddles and Sunny Yellow Dandelions in a Sunday School classroom. Listen to these words:
“When I look at a patch of dandelions I see a bunch of weeds that are going to take over my yard. My kids see flowers for Mom, and blowing white fluff you can wish on.”
“When I hear music I love, I know I can’t carry a tune and don’t have much rhythm, so I sit self-consciously and listen. My kids feel the beat and move to it. They sing out the words. If they don’t know them, they make up their own.”
“When I look at a homeless person and he smiles at me, I see a person who probably wants money from me and I look away. My kids see someone smiling at them and they smile back.”
“When I see a mud puddle, I step around it. I see muddy shoes and dirty carpets. My kids sit in it. They see dams to build, rivers to cross, and worms to play with.”
“I wonder if we are given kids to teach…or to learn from? No wonder God loves little children! So, enjoy the little things in life because one day you may look back and realize that they were the big things. I wish you Big Mud Puddles and Sunny Yellow Dandelions.”
St. Luke’s family, there is so much in this life to be grateful for. The riches of God’s goodness are all around us, but we have to have the eyes of faith to see them, the ears of faith to hear them, the heart of faith to feel them and the hands of faith to hold them and celebrate them.
When I stop and think about it, the great people of faith I have known over the years, the ones who have touched my heart and influenced my life spiritually — those amazing people — have all had this special quality. You could tell they were strongly connected to God because they were strongly connected to the spirit of gratitude.