Thanksgiving…more than just a day

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” ~ Psalm 9:1 (ESV)

The season of “Thanks” is upon us. Through all our hustle and bustle of the pending holidays, we will pause for a brief moment to be thankful for jobs, success, family, health, or whatever good thing has befallen us this year. It’s easy to show gratitude when times are good, for good outcomes and hope for the future. What about when nothing in the natural is worthy of thanks? Can we still be thankful in bad times, uncontrollable circumstances and from great loss.

Two years ago this month my brother-in-law, wife, youngest son and I were coming home from the “Warrior Dash”, my wife and brother-in-law had participated in, when our world would be changed in a moment. It was an overcast day, as we sat in the turning lane less than a mile from our home, when all of sudden things went dark. The next thing I remember is hearing moans, screaming, “she’s unconscious”, “we’re going to cut your out”, sounds of helicopter rotors, sirens and then dark silence again. After what seemed like seconds, I awakened to my own sounds of labored “Darth Vader” breathing and a man standing over me saying “You’re in a ambulance and we are taking you to the hospital”.

While fading in and out of consciousness I pieced together the fuzzy events. We had been rear ended by an 18 wheel semi truck, pushed into the vehicle in front of us, bounced into oncoming traffic and T-boned by an SUV. My wife broke neck, shoulder, collar bone, ribs, and punctured her lung and spleen; my son broke is collar bone, ribs, pelvis, tore meniscus in his knee, punctured his lung and spleen; I had broken ribs, cracked sternum and collapsed lung; and my brother-in-law broke ribs. To say we were in rough shape would be an understatement.

In a single instance my healthy family became broken. We spend a week in the hospital, 90 days recovering, another 90 days rehabilitating and almost 2 years in litigation. Today, we are fully recovered and have returned to our active life style. In all reality, we are actually in better health, wellness & fitness than before. This doesn’t mean we don’t have any physical reminders of what we’ve endured, instead we have purposed not be victimized by them or allow them to limit us in our call and mission to Christ.

As a memorial of thanksgiving, I would like to share a post I wrote 5 days after the accident on Thanksgiving Day 2011 (click to read original post: “Thankful”).

Today as I reflect not only on Thanksgiving and being “Thankful”, it just seems like such a trivial word or occasion to highlight not just what my family has navigated through this year and especially this week, but everything all of us have journeyed the past days, weeks, months and year. We wrap all our energy into a single day, instance or event. Why is our gratitude limited to a myopic moment, a speck in time and space that is nothing more than a vapor in eternity? I guess why I struggle so much today is that word doesn’t even remotely express, encapsulate or identify what I am experiencing NOW. I have heard and even said words over the past few days that barely scratch the surface. Don’t get me wrong because I don’t want to come across ungrateful or belittle all that has transpired.

I believe it is divinely orchestrated for my family to be where we are on this day. It’s only fitting and only the “Great Life Author could have penned”. So my challenge to me, all of us is this…God’s grace and mercy is NOT limited to a single moment or event, it is sovereign, dynamic and eternal. It is always at work, has never ceased and will never fail. I understand our human nature cannot contain all of God, so we compartmentalized Him in time, but in my opinion it degrades His true nature and will for His children, for us. So today, at least use today to begin our journey of true thanksgiving, instead of just citing rhetoric we only mean for the moment, let us stop, fall to our knees or faces, close our eyes, shut our mouths, open our hearts and minds, and truly reflect on the fullness of who He is in our lives and worship Him with the fullness of our thanksgiving to Him. Not for what He has done, but more eternal for who He is.

When we do this daily, then we can truly walk in the fullness of “Thanksgiving”.

James Miller Jr
“Missionary to a Generation”

*Published in the November 14, 2013 issue of the Port Aransas South Jetty newspaper. via Thanksgiving…more than just a day – Grace Community Church of Port Aransas.