Always give thanks

Posted By | December 12, 2019 11:53 am

Playl’s Ponderings – By Steve Playl

Many years ago, as a young preacher boy in college, I was privileged to know a man of God named David Walters. He preached in our college church on many special occasions, and later, as a young pastor, I invited him to speak at a revival in one of my first churches.

David served as pastor of several churches and was involved in the Navigators, a para-church organization that promotes discipleship and scripture memorization. Listening to him quote Bible verses, passages, even complete books of the Bible was an amazing experience.  Pastor Walters was a spiritual giant and one of my early heroes in the faith.

An unforgettable sermon illustration he shared,  many years ago, recently came back to me in a most teachable moment.  The event that he related went something like this:

It was a dark and stormy night as Brother Dave drove alone on a two-lane, desolate road, in rural Kentucky, reciting scripture to himself and carrying on a conversation with God. As he quoted Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he repeated the verse in chapter four that states, “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say rejoice.”

As he meditated on that verse, a verse from I Thessalonians popped into his mind, “In EVERY thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Thinking about things for which he was thankful was easy, but – he wondered – can I always rejoice in the Lord…can I give thanks for EVERYYTHING that happens in my life? Attempting to be totally transparent before God he prayed, “Father, I don’t believe I could be thankful, truthfully thankful, for a flat tire on this deserted stretch of highway, in this miserable weather. Your Word says I am to give thanks in every thing, in every circumstance of life, so I ask You to change my attitude so that I could be thankful, even if I had a flat tire.”

As he prayed, Dave said the Lord worked in his heart until he began to sing praises to God and rejoice in the Lord. As his outlook began to change, his prayer took a different direction, and he said, “Lord, I’m not asking for a flat tire, but I believe I could give You thanks, even if I did have one.”

Guess what! He had a flat tire; and while he was changing the tire, smiling and singing in the rain, a man stopped to help him, a man that needed encouragement in his life, that needed to hear about Jesus; and David shared the Gospel with him. Those two men had a divine appointment.

On Thanksgiving Day just passed, I was reminded of that story from the past. Sammie and I were headed to Starbucks for a quick breakfast, then a stop at the grocery, before preparing dinner for ourselves and our daughter and son-in-law. A few blocks from the house, I heard an unmistakable “thump, thump, thump” and realized we had a flat tire. Confession time…I wasn’t nearly as spiritual as my mentor from decades ago. Indeed, I was flat frustrated.

Long story, short…Dustin came from AAA and changed my tire. As he finished the job, I thanked him and added that I really appreciated his willingness to work on Thanksgiving Day. That’s when he helped me get things in prospective.

“I’m thankful,” he said, “for a job, so that I can put food on the table for my family.”

That’s when my ugly spirit began to smile. I was not thankful for the flat tire, but I was thankful that having a flat tire had given me the opportunity to meet someone with such a positive attitude.                   Give thanks in EVERY circumstance of life!

Steve Playl, chaplain, columnist, college instructor and former pastor, playlsr@yahoo.com

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