As we enter the month of November, our thoughts turn toward the Thanksgiving celebration. This is obviously the season to focus upon and be grateful for the blessings and continued faithfulness of God. I came across a quote from Catholic priest and author Henri Nouwen that helps us place this season (indeed, all of life) in proper perspective:
“To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives—the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections—that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say "thank you" to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.”
Pastor Nouwen’s words beautifully articulate the power of gratitude to positively impact our lives. I have discovered in my own journey of faith that gratitude results in joy, despite what might be occurring in my life. I trust the same will be true for you. Psalm 95:1-2 reminds us: “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with Thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”
Keep the faith,
As you all may know, I am an avid USC Trojan football fan. Since and including the 1972 season (when I was a young pup), I have attended somewhere in the neighborhood of 220 games (a conservative estimate), including 16 Rose Bowl games. You may be asking yourself, “What’s wrong with this guy?” Admittedly, I love going to the games. However, increasingly my perspective is shifting to a new paradigm. Over the past couple of years I have exclusively taken my two boys to the games. Why? It is because going to the games with either my 11 or 7-year-old is an opportunity to spend quality time with them. That is, going to a game is now an excuse to build relationship with my boys. Once while driving home from a game I asked my son Braden what his favorite part of the day was.
He answered, “Being with you, dad.” I got it.
Isn’t relationship what the gospel is all about – “For God so love the world….”
God sent his Son to die on the cross in order to restore relationship with humanity that sin had corrupted. Faith in Jesus restores relationship with our Heavenly Father. We then become ambassadors of God’s redemptive plan to build, repair and restore relationships in all forms – whether horizontal or vertical in nature. Let us view the “events” of our lives (whatever they may be) as opportunities to increase love, forgiveness and understanding. I am praying that time spent with my boys at football games will pay dividends later.
Keep the faith,
Originally from Huntington Beach, CA, Tony received his Bachelor's degree in religion from USC and his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Talbot School of Theology. Tony loves spending time with his wife, Sheri, and their two sons and daughter (Bryce, Braden, and Brooke); cheering for the USC Trojan football team; and playing tennis.