On a personal note…
This past Sunday we gathered together for our annual Thanksgiving feast. It is a time when we can gather as one family to offer hospitality to one another on a grand scale as covered dishes, delicious desserts and tasty treats are brought in abundance. I don’t know what the final count was for this year, but I would guess close to 400 people attended. Many people work together to make this event the well-oiled machine it is, and for all of you I am grateful.
For those who have attended, you will know that as we get to the end of our meal we take time to allow anyone who wishes to express their gratitude publicly. Some give thanks for how much their small group means to them, others for groups and individuals in the church who have gone the extra mile in help and encouragement. There was one testimony, however, that was closer to home for me than any other.
A few months ago my oldest son Thomas asked me if we would be holding the Thanksgiving feast again this year. Somewhat surprised by this question I assured him that we would be holding the feast as usual and asked him why he wanted to know. He told me that after receiving such an outpouring of love, support and encouragement when he had to begin his dialysis earlier this year, he wanted to take the opportunity to collectively thank everyone in the church. Good to his word, on Sunday night he stood up, took the microphone and quietly and graciously thanked the congregation for their part in helping him adjust to a new normal.
I am, of course, proud of all three of my boys (and grateful for the excellence with which my wife is raising them), but I experienced a particular gratitude for God’s goodness as Thomas spoke. Parents work, hope and pray that when trials come to their children, they will have been prepared to meet them well. At the ripe old age of 17, Sarah and I watched to see how Thomas would handle a regimen of dialysis that required being hooked up to a machine for 10 hours every day. To our delight he met the challenge with remarkable equanimity.
But the story of God’s kindness doesn’t end there. Earlier today (Nov. 20), I received word that I am a match to give Thomas a new kidney! In the midst of some other “fiery trials” in life this has come as tremendous news at just the right time. I am thankful to the Lord for his provision. I am thankful to the members of Christ Baptist for their prayers and seemingly boundless love. My hope through this is that God will use us all in the coming months to reach out to those who do not yet know such love so that more might have the joy of knowing the reason for the hope that is in us.