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A. Ray Lee ss

I will give thanks   

By A. Ray Lee   

Columnist 

For many of my age, this has been a chaotic and confusing year as we have watched unwelcomed and unwanted changes occur in our circumstances and lives. We have had to deal with the accelerated physical changes and adjustments that aging demands. Retirement and limited fixed incomes have forced changes in our lifestyles. Many continue to suffer from the effects of the Virus. We have attended funerals for our peers which remind us of our own mortality. It is easy to dwell in our thinking upon that which we have lost and rue what we once had.  

This coming Sunday morning after an encouraging message from our pastor we will adjourn to the fellowship hall for one of the communal meals for which Lebanon has long been famous. The tables will be laden with an abundance of all the foods associated with Thanksgiving. We will miss the ones who have gone on to their heavenly reward since last year. But for a while, we will count our blessings and linger long around the tables to enjoy the moments of blessed fellowship. We will forget our losses and give thanks for what we have.   

Perhaps we will enumerate some of the things for which we are thankful beginning with the creature comforts. While remembering some of the old houses I lived in as a child I will give thanks for a sturdy house in which to find shelter and rest after a day of work or activities. This winter it will be warm inside and I will hardly hear the cold winds blowing outside. In my closet is clothing accumulated through the years which may not be in style but are comfortable. My kitchen holds little gourmet food but I will not go hungry.  

I will give thanks for relationships with family and friends that bring joy into my life and give me help in my times of need. In those relationships I find encouragement and warmth that serve as a balm for my disappointments and heal the hurts when my heart is heavy. With gratitude, I will remember those who in years past gave of themselves to influence my life.  As the scripture indicates, although they are no longer with us their examples continue to offer hope for the present and future. 

Above all, I will give thanks for the amazing grace of God and His providential guidance in my life. That providence has led me far beyond what I could have ever imagined as a youth when I chose a life of service for him. That service has overcome challenges and heartaches and has endured for over sixty years and has enabled me to minister in places beyond anything I could ever conceive in my thinking at its beginning. He still has things for me to do. 

My prayer for each of us is this: may neither the regrets over our past nor anxieties concerning our future deter us from living in a spirit of thanksgiving.  

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