Recently we drove by a church that had the following saying on its outside bulletin board: "Thanksgiving - Make it a Verb." It was there because here in Canada we have our official Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday of October each year. It is good to have a national day of thanks giving, but I think that most have too little thanks to God in their hearts. This special day has its roots in the ancient harvest festivals. However, for most it is a "noun" - family and a lot of good food to eat - BUT not a "verb."
True giving of thanks comes from a heart that appreciates the goodness, the bountiful grace, of our Father God to us. One is reminded of the scriptures that say, "in every thing give thanks," and "for every thing give thanks." This requires action, in other words, it is verbal communication.
As I lay awake one morning before getting up, I was thinking about my father. While I have many memories, perhaps the thing I remember the most, was his thanking everyone for whatever service they may have given him. This remained true even in his final days, as the hospital staff cared for him until his release from his earthen body into the glorious one. To nursing staff it may have been a job, yet to him, they had served him and deserved his thanks.
My father, George Greatorex, was a marvel of the grace of God. His home life as a child was not easy. One day as he came home from school, he heard a big fight going on between his mother and stepfather over another woman. This ended with his mother being driven out of the home. She was so afraid to go back to collect her possessions that she snuck in through a window to get them. My father only saw his mother once after that, but he continued to love her until his final days.
Life at the place called home, became so unbearable after "the other woman" moved in that he repeatedly ran away from this unhappy situation. At age 14 he was consider as being “over age,” for the school system of the time, so he had to go work in a factory. WW1 was on, and factory workers were needed. One day, the "other woman" was sick, and he was able to collect his own pay, so he ran away one final time.
It was not long before he was caught, and sentenced to five years in the reformatory, since he was considered to be a rather bad child. While he lived in Sheffield England, for some unknown reason he was sent south to a reform school in Herts, just north of London. While there, he never heard from the man, he had thought of as being his father, or his new wife. However, a kindly Sheffield neighbour woman did send him some cookies. My father was released after serving four years. During his time there, he and the other inmates were gotten up at 6AM and marched down to the river to bathe, both in the summer and winter. Once released my father headed back to Sheffield to try and find his mother. She had and moved elsewhere, and his attempts to find her failed.
Having no reason to stay in Sheffield, he went to London to live. While there, he decided to attend the Church of England [Anglican/Episcopal]. This may have been influenced by his reform school days, and prior to that his only spiritual experience had been at a Salvation Army Sunday School. Having a desire for God he sought to become a member of the church, and took the required classes to do so. It was at his confirmation that he was deeply touched as the bishop blessed him by saying, "Lord bless this child with Thy heavenly grace that he may continue Thine forever." It may have been form and ceremony to the others, but to my father who had felt so much alone and so unloved, it was life giving. Suddenly he knew that Someone loved him. GOD LOVED HIM! This changed his life forever. He loved to sing the chorus, “So Glad I’m Yours.” It has only been in recent years that I came to understand why he sang it so often.
One day he read a newspaper ad that told him he could have free passage to Canada, and all he had to do was repay the fare by working on a farm. He felt it was a chance for a new beginning, and to have a fresh start as there was nothing left in England for him. He had no idea of the kind of farm work ahead, or that he would sleep in a barn both summer, and through the long cold Canadian prairie winter. It was all a part of the new life ahead, as God was directing his path.
After his arrival in Eston, Saskatchewan he found a church and got involved as a youth leader. Later on he influenced to study for the Presbyterian ministry. However, God had a different ministry direction planned for him, and he was highly recommended to go to the Pentecostal Bible College in Winnipeg. He then entered the ministry, and after a few years he married into a family that received him as their very own son.
My father was always appreciative of the goodness of God to him, of the acts of others, of nature and more. A favorite chorus of his was, "So glad I’m yours Lord." Frankly, I wearied of hearing it back then. Since that time I have spent several years tracing his family history. I even found out where his mother ended her days on this earth. The more I learned, the more I understood him, and his great appreciation for all that God had given him, even to the smallest thing that someone did for him.
These few words were not intended to dwell upon my father, but as I wrote I felt the lesson of his thankful heart worth sharing it with all of you.
There is one personal thought I would like to share with you. Today there are many voices speaking against various sins. Many of you could easily fill in this list of BAD sins. However, to me the greatest sin, is none of those things. It is the sin of being UNTHANKFUL. Many of us have been blessed with so much, and appreciate it so little. Romans Chapter One speaks of those who while knowing God had hearts that were unthankful, and so their foolish hearts were darkened.
Many years ago I remember a young woman saying that she believed that, "God has blessed us with so much, that we might choose Him above everything." Think about that.
So I would encourage you to have a heart full of thanksgiving, not as a noun for some special decreed day of the year. Have it as a VERB each and every day! What for? Things? Certainly we should be thankful for material blessings and the kindness of others toward us. Regretfully we often take these things for granted.
Many times I have said that the worst sin in North America was not on the list the Religious Right emphasises, and of course those sins are wrong. The biggest sin is that of UNTHANKFULNESS. It is sad that we, who are so blessed, whine and complain so much!
Now, what I want to close this article with is; Let us be thankful to our Father God for sending His Son to live as one of us, so that we, and all humanity, will find our home in Him. Let us arise and go, back to our Father and home with hearts full of thanksgiving!.