Thanksgiving Day is almost here. Time to reflect on the things we are thankful for. What am I thankful for? Well, the first thing that popped into my mind was...stuffing. I'm thankful for stuffing. Not just any stuffing mind you. The boxed stuff doesn't cut it. The kind of stuffing I'm talking about has been lovingly prepared in my family for generations with celery, onions, butter, seasoning, bread crumbs dried in the oven, all mixed together and allowed to marinate inside a large bird for several hours in a hot oven. Ah...my mouth waters as I write about it. I can't wait to dig in. Yes. That's what I'm thankful for.
Before you judge me as being pathetically shallow, allow me to explain.
The other day I was channel surfing cable stations and stumbled on a tribute to John Denver. Yes, I'm a little embarrassed to admit, I'm a fan. I grew up listening to John Denver. Many a time around the campfire as a kid was spent crooning Take Me Home Country Roads; I am an Eagle, Rocky Mountain High, and many other Denver classics. When I stumbled on his tribute, he was at a concert sometime in the 70's belting out "Sunshine on My Shoulders," one of my favorites, a smile crept across my face as I listened. "Sunshine on my shoulders....makes me happy...." C'mon, tell me that song doesn't bring a smile to your face. It can't be helped.
What is it about that song that makes us smile? I think it's the simple joy it expresses. It's finding joy in something small, but so universally felt and understood that when we hear it, it takes us to that place and warms us inside.
There's a scripture in Zechariah that, I believe, expresses very much that same sentiment. "For who has despised the day of small things?" (Zechariah 4:10)
I think the author is writing about stuffing - Okay - maybe not just stuffing, but stuff like stuffing. Zerubbabel was standing where the temple was to be rebuilt, holding a plumb line, and measuring the foundation. It seems he was feeling overwhelmed by how huge the task was that lay before him and how little progress he was making. He had tons of granite and rock to be cut and placed, thousands of man hours of labor to get done and what was he doing? Standing around with a string in his hand? Such a small thing, who could get excited about that? But God encouraged him to think differently about it. God was encouraging him to take joy - take heart in the small things - the little steps that would lead to the big result.
It's easy for us to focus on just the big things, isn't it? We look forward to and spend a great deal of effort working for the big goal, the big purchase, or the big event. Sometimes, we pin so much of our happiness on those big things, that we overlook, undervalue, yes, sometimes even despise a lot of little blessings that we experience every day along the way. When, as they often do, these big hopes and dreams let us down, we become a victim of the 3D's. We become disheartened, disillusioned and depressed. If only we could understand that some of the greatest joys in life are embedded in the process, in the little things we experience along the way. Not in the end result.
I'm sure you have your own list, but here are a few small things I'm thankful for:
- Cuddling with my wife in front of the fire
- My daughter's smile
- Reading God's Word with my cat sitting in my lap
- A bear hug from my son
- Paddling my kayak across a lake at sunset
- A hot cup of coffee on my long commute
- My old ratty looking, paint stained sweatshirt
- Finally reaching the Sabbath after a long week
- Singing John Denver's greatest hits around a campfire with family and friends
- Oh yes, and a big helping of stuffing on my Thanksgiving plate
The big blessings are great when and if they come, but it's the little things like these that can bring a smile every day.
For more on being thankful, read the free study aid Making Life Work.