Through the years, we have seen numerous takes on the Thanksgiving holiday. A number of phrases have been employed in an effort to creatively capture the essence of this holiday. We’ve been exhorted to realize that “thanks” is best offered through thanksliving. We’ve probably all been challenged to cultivate and attitude of gratitude, which will enable us to give thanks in all circumstances.
Who would argue with these ideas? We are, after all, instructed in the Scriptures to give thanks in all circumstances. It is in light of this thought that my heart has been tugging on my mind all week long. Giving thanks in all circumstances is no easy thing to do. Admittedly, it’s easy to have a good attitude when you have a long weekend and there is more football on television than anyone could possibly watch and there are more leftovers in the refrigerator than most families can eat in two weeks and the house is full of friends, family and hearty laughter. However, most weeks don’t unfold this way.
Weeks like this are the exception, not the norm for many of us. That’s why my heart has been clamoring to be heard for the past several days. That’s why I’ve been struggling with idea of posting another “Aren’t You Glad It’s Thanksgiving?” article. Don’t get me wrong. I am very glad it is Thanksgiving. I’m just thinking about different things this year than I have in previous years.
My life has truly been blessed by people who have been willing to go the extra mile on my behalf. Every time I reflect on this a mental picture comes to mind. At first glance this mental image seems incongruous. In my mind’s eye I see an aged African-American brother in Christ. He is lying on his bed in his home. He is only hours away from being dismissed from this life in peace like the prophet Simeon. Even though he has lived nearly nine decades, he is finishing strong. He has waged a valiant battle with the cancer that now riddles his body, a body wracked with pain. He is weary from the fight. He is ready to be with the Lord.
When his young preacher friend kneels beside his bed and softly touches his elbow, this brother stirs. His visitor inquires, “How are you, brother?”
His once booming voice now reduced to a raspy whisper, brother Bryant replies, “Wonderfully blessed.”
For all of the years that I knew him, this dear brother’s reply when asked how he was doing was typically, “I’m wonderfully blessed!” He came to Christ late in life, having squandered many years in riotous living. But God blessed him with a long life, which allowed him to spend about a half century preaching the Gospel.
It was my good fortune to know him and be blessed by his friendship. He took me under his wing and mentored me during a difficult time in ministry. He called me regularly. Almost every time he called he would start the conversation with, “Hello, Baby. How are you today?” I freely confess that the first few times he called me “baby” I was a bit disconcerted. It was, however, quite normal for him to call the young men he was mentoring by this term of endearment. With the passing of time hearing his voice—even when he called me “baby”—brought a sense of calmness to my day.
I’d like to write more about this. Perhaps I will some day. Today, I just want you to know what a blessing this brother was to my life. Even though it has been many years since he has quit the walks of men, if he were to call me just one more time and ask, “How you doing, Baby?” I would take great pleasure in responding, “Wonderfully blessed, dear brother. I am wonderfully blessed.”
I’m thankful for all the people through whom God has blessed my life. I’m thankful that he sent Carl my way to teach me what it means to be wonderfully blessed.
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all,” 2 Corinthians 13:14.
© Bill Williams
November 23, 2007