I am honored to post this Thanksgiving piece by my husband, Gary Wichman
It’s that time of year, Thanksgiving! The other day I ran across these stats again:
- If you own just one Bible, one-third of the world does not have access to even one.
- If you woke up this morning, one million will not survive the week.
- If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people around the world.
- If you attended a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, almost three billion people in the world cannot.
- If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.
- If you have money in the bank and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of this world’s wealthy.
- If your parents are still married and alive, you are very rare, even here in North America.
- If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.
Is this what it means to be blessed, to have our basic needs and much more? Col 3:5 warns, “Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry.” Interestingly, one of idolatry’s characteristics is that it feeds upon itself, robbing us of the joy it promised initially. God wants to do more than free us from idolatry with this warning; He wants to free us from ourselves.
I’m sure you have heard the expression, “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.” Sometimes when I hear that phrase, I get a strange, uneasy like feeling, deep down inside. I wonder what they are focusing on. Normally, I hear that phrase used when things go their way. They get the job promotion, they find out that lump they had biopsied was not cancer or they have claimed one of God’s promises like, “Ask and it shall be given onto you,” and so they say God is good.
Yet, when things go wrong and God doesn’t answer their prayers in the manner they want, I hear questions like, “Why me? Why would a good God allow bad things to happen to good people?” or “But God promises…” Not too often do I hear, “God is good,” then.
I would like to share a story. Some of you know that I’m a sailor. Once upon a time, in my younger days, I wanted to sail around the world. Although that did not happen, I have always been fascinated by the sea and the people who sail it. In 1992 a man named Michael Plant, set off on a solo crossing of the Atlantic. He was an expert yachtsman and had made trips across the Atlantic and around the world numerous times. His brand-new sailboat, Coyote, was very high-tech; $650,000 worth.
Plant had a support team that monitored his trip by satellite and radio. With the exception of some electrical problems which limited his ability to communicate, everything was smooth sailing. When he crossed paths with a freighter he asked its crew to send a message to his support team that he would have the electrical problem sorted out soon and all was well. So when Plant sailed into a storm, no one worried. After all, he was one of the best sailors in the world. They figured that once everything settled down Plant would resume radio contact.
After the storm passed and they did not hear from him, they repeatedly tried to reach Plant by radio but they received no reply. The Coast Guard started a sea and air search. Thirty-two days later, a passing cargo ship spotted Coyote floating upside down. Her captain was never found.
How could this have happened? Unlike motor boats, racing sailboats are very hard to turn over and even if they do, their heavy keels cause the boats to right themselves. But as Coyote was examined, the cause of the tragedy was clear. The one thing that would keep her from capsizing had failed. The 8,400 pound keel bulb had broken off. Even with all her advanced design features and high-tech gadgets; without the unseen thousands of pounds of lead attached to the bottom of the boat, Coyote became instantly unstable and went out of control, flipping over during the storm.
Michael Plant designed his boat for the sole purpose of going farther and faster than anyone else. Every design element was produced with that goal in mind. One basic item was not given enough consideration and that decision cost him his life.
Some people focus on the goodness of God and not on God who is good. The more fancy stuff; the healthier, wealthier and wiser they are, the more they believe that they have been blessed. Matt 5:45 says, “He sends rain on the just and the unjust, too.” The difference between the just and the unjust is found beneath the surface, not above. We have a keel that gives our lives direction and keeps us from capsizing in life’s storms.
During this holiday season, being truly blessed will not be measured by the food we have on our tables or by the number of family or friends who surround us. Being blessed is and always will be measured by the weight and depth of our relationship with God. Paul sums it up best in this prayer in Ephesians 3:16-19 “I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
That’s why Jesus could say: “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the hungry. Blessed are those who mourn.” Being blessed has nothing to do with the stuff we have in our boat, it’s all about what we have below the water line.
The strange, uneasy feeling I mentioned earlier, can maybe be summed up with this verse from an old hymn, “The things of this world have grown strangely dim…” It took a few trips, okay, maybe several trips into the valley, but through a deep, personal relationship with my Creator, I finally got it. My life is not about me. And to me, that’s what being blessed is all about.
Let’s always remember, Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”
Gary Wichman is a husband, father, grandfather and a lifelong child of God.