Culture

Things We Take for Granted

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Yesterday I missed being crunched in the middle of this sandwich of cars by ten seconds. I was at the front of the line waiting to turn left when the pile-up happened. I glanced into my rearview mirror before making my turn and couldn’t quite comprehend what I was seeing — a car perched almost vertically atop another. The airbag in the blue car did not engage and although he was able to climb out of it, the driver was extremely disoriented. He kept asking where he was and wondering where he had been heading. I convinced him to hand me his cell phone because his incoherent rambling was surely terrifying his wife on the other end. I explained to her what had happened as paramedics loaded him into the EMS unit. After examining him, the paramedic shouted to his partner that they needed to go — immediately.

Though I wasn’t involved in the accident myself, I realized after I got home that I was feeling a bit shaken by the ordeal. In moments like that, one gets a clear view of how fleeting life is and how quickly it can end. I don’t worry about that — as a Christian, I’m sure that the moment I die I will be “at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). But the accident reminded me how seldom I’m thankful for God’s mercies that are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Obviously, I’m very thankful that I wasn’t hurt in the accident. And I’m thankful my son wasn’t injured when his car slid off the road in the snowstorm on Tuesday. And I’m thankful that a dear friend left work to help the coatless boys who had also managed to lock the keys in the car.

But beyond that, I take a lot for granted. Breathing, for example. When I stop to contemplate that my lungs inflate and deflate and do their oxygenating business without me ever having to consciously think about it, I am speechless. They just go in and out and in and out day after day after day, despite the fact that I barely ever think about my breathing. By decree of the God who knows the number of hairs on my head I will draw 17,280 breaths today, even though I rarely ever thank Him for his goodness.

And my hands. I’m staring at them now as I type and I consider my fine motor skills. I can feel my yellow lab’s smooth fur when he puts his head on my lap. They were stiff and freezing at the scene of the accident as the blood vessels constricted so that blood (and oxygen) could be diverted away from my extremities to my vital organs to keep my body alive in case I was stranded out in the frigid weather for an extended period of time. Awesome (awe·some – adjective: causing feelings of fear and wonder : causing feelings of awe).

I think about my sons, those two precious little boys that I rocked and changed and cuddled just a few minutes ago. At least it seems like it was a few minutes ago. Somehow, they’ve grown into these big, hairy men celebrating No Shave November. Somehow, they survived their childhood with imperfect parents and, by God’s grace, avoided most of the mistakes we made when we were their age. What a miracle to watch them growing in their faith, despite the frailties of their parents. 

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The other night as we were driving home, I remarked to my husband how beautiful the stars were on the cold, clear Ohio night. I wish I had thought to praise the Creator who blessed us with the work of His fingers, the moon and the stars, which He has set in place (Psalm 8).

I’m overwhelmed sometimes when I think about our liberty. That I can walk down a street unmolested and speak my mind freely without worrying about government censorship (at least for the time being). And I’m thankful that our church is free to preach the gospel… boldly and without apology.

Sometimes I just marvel at the thought that I’m holding a 3 1/2″ screen in my hands and watching a video. How is this even possible? Our ancestors could have never imagined the technology we take for granted.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point.

Last night our church gathered for our annual Corn Service. Everyone receives a kernel of corn upon arrival and then, as we pass a basket into which we drop our kernels, everyone in attendance shares something they are thankful for. Some were big things and others were ordinary: family, friends, new babies, husbands and wives; God’s protection and provision, His word; church, family, and our country. One little boy simply said, “God.”

So many precious blessings. Yet it’s often easier to complain and recite our laundry list of requesdemands to God than to thank him for the miracle of our bodies, for our families, for the stars.

It’s Thanksgiving — a day when we remember God’s provision for the pilgrims who risked everything to establish a place where they could live in peace without fear of religious persecution.

But I think it’s also a good day to take time to contemplate the things we take for granted in our lives and to thank the God who will allow our hearts to beat 100,000 times today, even if we never — not even once — think about it.

O Lord, our Lord,

   how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babies and infants,

   you have established strength because of your foes,

   to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

   the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

   what is man that you are mindful of him,

   and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

   and crowned him with glory and honor.

You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

   you have put all things under his feet,

   all sheep and oxen,

   and also the beasts of the field,

   the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,

   whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,

   how majestic is your name in all the earth! — Psalm 8