This morning, I sat down to spend time with the Lord and Thanksgiving was on my mind. I said, “Lord, I want to look into the Word regarding thankfulness. I don’t want to try to fabricate feelings of thankfulness. I want you to lead me in thoughts of thankfulness.” Immediately the Lord took me back in my mind to shortly before I was saved.
I lived in a little rented house in the inner city. I lived in a neighborhood of inner city people that smoked a lot of pot, grew a lot of flowers, and that wanted to “give peace a chance.” They were “free spirits” doing their own thing as was I. Drugs and alcohol were becoming my addition and slowly derailing my life. What I never knew or could see was that God was calling to me. God was watching over me. God was reaching out to guide my extremely misguided life.
I was young man raised right in a good family that had gone astray – not out of rebellion, just off the straighter path of life looking for meaning and more fun. I grew up with a work ethic taught to me by my parents that as I look at in hind sight – was far stronger than most I knew. It was deteriorating from the use of pot and being aimless. I had given Greyhound five years of my life and loved the people I worked with but I started to feel an unrest and knew I needed to make a change. I was clueless as what to do. One day while getting a hair cut, the stylist mentioned that he had applied to be a flight attendant for the airline in town. While driving away from that hair cut I thought, “I need to go apply there.” Little did I know that his mentioning this job was God’s grace speaking to and directing me.
When I applied there, they apologized. I was told they have gotten over one million applications for the flight attendant positions nation wide and couldn’t accept any more. I was disappointed. The next day, while visiting my parents, I waved to and got into a conversation with their next door neighbor, a very pleasant woman we grew up next to. She had been a widow but had recently gotten married. She had asked me how I was doing. I mentioned that I was ready for a change of jobs and had tried to apply at the airlines but couldn’t get my application in. She smiled and said, “Give it to me. My new husband is a vice-president of that airline.” God’s grace was working unbeknownst to me.
When the interview came, it was a group interview with about a dozen people. This may sound funny, but they were beautiful people – both guys and gals. She had each person tell of their family, school, and work experience to date and why they wanted the job. I was the last to talk. Each person came from great families, had college educations, and incredible travel experience. I thought, “I have about as much chance as a snowball in …… “ When it came to me, the interviewer had this glow and smile that put me at such incredible ease. I told about my family and being one of ten children. I told them that my college education was on hold. I told them about my work experiences. She hired me. I was floored! A year later she told me it was because “the Lord had spoken to her and said, you need to hire him.” “I have a plan for him.” God’s grace was working unbeknownst to me.
After working there for about a year, I worked with a flight attendant who was this glowing person. She was special and I wanted to know why. She ended up sharing Jesus and the gospel with me. I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. Although it took about three months for me to figure out what this really meant and to find a church would teach me the Bible, my life was radically changing. God’s grace was working mightily in my life even though I had no idea what grace was.
Shortly the drugs were gone, the alcohol was gone, the profanity was gone – my desire for anything offense to Jesus and His Word fell out of my life. My friends thought I flipped out. It was just a short time later that I met this breathtakingly beautiful Christian woman named Renee. I had fallen radically in love with Jesus. Now I was radically falling in love with her. I was often overwhelmed with thanksgiving to God. I remember a six month period where I would stand in church worshipping the Lord thanking Him for plucking me out off of a path leading to destruction and Hell and filling my life with Him and all these new good things. I would cry with thanks during worship almost every Sunday. I was almost embarrassed for feeling so emotional. It was not typically me, but every time I would think about what God did for me, I’d be fighting tears of thanks.
As the story goes, His grace led me, taught me, equipped me, and filled my life with His love and goodness. The airlines, two companies, and then finally into my call and service to God as a Pastor.
One of my sons Peter was up two weekends ago at our annual Men’s Advance with a couple hundred men. He and his girlfriend were over for dinner on Sunday. He told me, “Dad, I am happy in my job but this past weekend, I saw the influence and the good you bring to all those men’s lives. I want my life to have that kind of significance.” I just smiled but didn’t say much. I knew in my heart that God’s grace was calling and leading Him.
Our life has had the same challenges that anyone has. God’s love and grace is greater when our eyes our open to see it! 2 Cor. 4:13-18 from the Message Bible helps us put them in perspective. “We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise! So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.“
God did lead me this morning to that place of sincere heart thanksgiving. He had taken me through His holding my hand down my path of life. I am so thankful for His grace that keeps us walking in love, in faith, and in trust of His grace. I am so thankful for each of you and for God’s grace working mightily in your life to redeem every situation and bring you to His will for your life – His blessing. It’s my prayer that you will take time over this Thanksgiving to recognize and give God to praise for His unfolding grace in your life. Happy Thanksgiving!
In His Love,
Pastor Tim & Renee Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2007 Tim Burt, All rights reserved.