Yesterday, we had some friends over for breakfast and – of course – we showed them our Christmas tree. It was fun to talk about some of the decorations and to answer questions they had about some of the more unusual ornaments. I imagine that our tree is decorated like others in our stage of life; lots of crafty ornaments the kids made over the years, some keepsakes that commemorate milestones like marriage and babies, and some lovely gifted ornaments that remind us family and friends. Our Christmas tree is full of memories! The more I thought about this, the more I realized just how grateful I should be.
I am grateful for my family. I have a beautiful, talented, industrious wife who works hard to meet the needs of her family. We have built a wonderful life together over the last 14 and a half years. I’m also blessed with wonderful, talented, healthy kids. They are a source of joy as well as a means of revealing how much I need to learn and grow.
I am grateful for my extended family and friends. My biological family helped plant and nurture the seeds of the Gospel in my young heart. I am rich with friends from every stage of life, including friends who are tried and true though seasons of loss and difficulty. I’m also glad to live in an era when technology, such as social media, helps me keep in touch with those who live far away.
I am grateful for my ministry. I work and serve as pastor of a local church. It’s rich with the joys and heartaches of life, and the people are generous to let me walk through this particular season with them. We’ve seen many people’s lives changed – amazing stories – and they offer encouragement despite my many weaknesses.
But there is something more for which I must be grateful. As I reflect on all these blessings, I realize just how undeserving I am. I’ve been saved completely by God’s Grace; I deserve none of the many ways in which He has blessed me. But it’s even more than that. Possessing a nature that loves to rebel (sin) against Him, I am constantly in need of His mercy. Any desire I have to love others more than myself is the result of His spirit at work in my heart. Realizing this, I see how God blesses me despite my unfaithfulness. I’ve been given much, am still faithless on my own despite the mercy given me, and yet am blessed all the more abundantly and daily. All this is because Jesus came to earth, lived perfectly, and died for me.
So my heart is full this Christmas. I hope that, as you reflect on the ways in which you have been blessed, your heart will be full too. Most of all, I hope that you will come to know the Savior who gave His life to give you life.
How have you been blessed? In what ways do you experience God’s mercy? How might you express your gratitude?