Now we can talk.
In 1940 a film version of the book The Grapes of Wrath hit the big screen. The movie was about the downside of living during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. You might say that it portrayed American life in a bad light. Not the kind of film you wanted people around the world to see.
Yet it was prohibited from being shown in Russia. I thought Russian leaders wanted people to think that life in America was not all it was portrayed to be.
But there were problems for them in the film. Poor people had trucks and cars and were able to travel wherever they wanted. There was too much freedom in America, and Joseph Stalin couldn’t let that be known.
Did anyone question his true motives? The truth was poor people in America had it much better than those in Russia.
I’m not suggesting that we go around and question the motives of all. But do we really believe that all of our politicians have our best interests at heart? Or could it be more about getting the money and the votes they need to retain power.
In the Old Testament (2 Samuel 2-3) there is a fascinating story that illustrates this. Briefly, there was a civil war going on in Israel. A commander by the name of Abner was being chased by Asahel. Eventually Abner killed Asahel in self defense. Of course this did not sit well with his brother Joab.
As the civil war came to an end Abner and Joab became joint commanders. However, in a moment of deception Joab killed Abner, apparently to seek revenge for the killing of his brother Asahel.
That is the obvious reason, but is it the whole reason? I mentioned that both Abner and Joab were joint commanders. Prior to this you might say Joab was on the winning side, as King David was gaining more power.
Could there have also been an ulterior motive? What about envy? Was Joab more concerned about the death of his brother or his own personal power?
Now it’s getting personal. What were the real reasons I had to buy that new car, new clothes, or bigger house? Why did I offer to pay for everyone’s lunch? Why were the drinks on me?
Was it because I truly wanted to serve my friends, or did I do it for personal recognition and appreciation, or to close the next deal? Hurts to even think about it.
Does Joab still live on in me?
This is huge, so let’s take just a moment to think about how it can impact you.
Feeling under appreciated has led many to leave their jobs, their marriages, and their friends.
It has even led some to lose their loyalty to their country.
Let’s go back in history. In 1775 one of George Washington’s aggressive military leaders led an attack on Quebec. It was during a driving snowstorm in the middle of December. While the Canadians proved stubborn and a surrender was not forthcoming, the leader’s valor was praised by Washington. During the attack this leader also took a musketball in his leg.
However, the leader’s colleagues had a different opinion, despite the fact that he was also a hero in earlier battles. His accomplishments were ignored, and to add insult to injury, he was criticized for overspending (after all, he was an American). By 1779 he was to be dismissed for misuse of funds. However, Washington insisted he stay.
You know the man I am talking about. It was being under appreciated that eventually led him to turn on the American armies.
Benedict Arnold, perhaps the most infamous traitor of all time, may have gone down in history with an entirely different ending had he been properly recognized.
That’s where you come in. None of us will probably ever get all the praise we feel like we deserve. But you cannot allow that to poison your soul and lead you to walk away from what is valuable to you.
On the other hand, think of others. Perhaps there is someone in your own life who is feeling under appreciated.
Never underestimate the power of appreciation.
Who can you show appreciation to today?
Most of us are probably somewhat familiar with the origin of our Thanksgiving holiday. We could trace its history all the way back to the Reformation, the decline of biblical values in society, and the desire of some Christians to be able to worship freely.
However, what is most familiar is the story of the Pilgrims. They started out in England and from there went to Holland. They felt that God was leading them to plant a colony where they could worship and live their lives as the Bible taught. Because they separated themselves and moved in 1608 to Holland they were called “Separatists.”
After twelve years in Holland they packed up again once again in search of religious freedom and a desire to expand their Christian faith. Later the Separatists became better known as Pilgrims which means travelers or wanderers.
That led ultimately to a voyage to America in 1620. The Mayflower landed late in 1620 with only about one third of its passengers considered to be Separatists. Upon arrival not everyone was interested in working to his full capacity and for the first couple of years food was in short supply.
It was at that time William Bradford decided to divide the land and let each household be responsible for meeting their own needs. It turned out to be a very wise decision, as production in the colony went way up. As Bradford later writes he is careful to give God all the credit for numerous events, the decisions that were made, and for leading them in specific ways.
While we have read about the first Thanksgiving in 1621 after the Pilgrims’ first growing season how often do we stop and give thanks for how God has led us? Let’s not forget that that first year was not incredible. One third of the colonists died during that first winter because of malnutrition or disease. The point is we don’t simply thank God when life is overly bountiful, we also thank Him in lesser times. That means we all have a story to tell where God gets the credit.
Carol and I built our first house and lived in it for several years as we added on and finished the basement. Our house was simple and small, but our lives were about to change. We went out on a date on a Friday night. Right after we dropped the kids off at some friends Carol suggested that we take a look at a piece of land she had seen advertised on the highway.
At this point I was in no mood to build another house. After all we had just finished the one we were in. For some reason (I believe God led me), I said ok, “Where is the property?”
We drove by and by Sunday evening we had a deal on five acres of property. It was there that we built our second house and from a financial standpoint it turned out to be the biggest turning point in our lives.
Like William Bradford, I hope to be able to always look back and see how God has worked in my life. Too much happens that I simply cannot take the credit for. What if Carol and I had not gone out on that Friday night? We learned later that another buyer had the money to buy it at 8am on Monday morning. What if Carol had not gone out that day and seen the sign?
The bottom line–God is at work in your life. Have you noticed? Have you taken the time to recount how He has led you?
This Thanksgiving, take some time to review God’s providence, His working in your life, and thank Him.
Thanksgiving: Give God the Credit!
Life is full of adversity. Obstacles seem to be around every corner.
If you ever feel like throwing in the towel and bailing on your dream think about the guy who…
*failed in business at the age of 32.
*ran for the state legislature and lost at the same age.
*gave business another shot at age 33 and failed again.
*lost his sweetheart at age 35.
*had a nervous breakdown at age 36.
*defeated running for Congress at 43.
*defeated again at age 48.
*ran for the Senate and defeated at 55.
*ran for Vice Presidency and defeated at 56.
*ran for the Senate again at 58 and lost again.
But he never QUIT!
*In 1860 he was elected President of the United States!!
Abraham Lincoln kept believing in himself.
Keep believing in yourself. You’ll be glad you did.