This last weekend has refreshed a spirit of thanksgiving in me. It began with a funeral on Friday morning for Grace Wolgemuth who was translated peacefully into the presence of Christ at the age of 93, leaving a godly legacy to her six children, 20 grandchildren and, to date, 27 great grandchildren. Sam and Grace Wolgemuth are among the people I feel privileged to have known. I came away from the funeral grateful for the wonderful people with whom I serve and renewed in my resolve to better appreciate these rich gifts from the Lord.
On Friday evening and twice on Saturday, I had the joy of participating in The Orchard’s Easter concerts. Knowing that I usually give a short message on these occasions, and evidently mindful of my schedule, someone asked, ‘Do you have to go to all these concerts?’ I wouldn’t miss them and if there were more I’d be there gladly. Hearing the Gospel expressed through the beauty and power of music and poetry is renewing to my spirit. As I listen to our choir and orchestra, I can feel their exaltation of Christ doing me good. Hearing the concert a second and third time, the words and music work their way inside me and now, three days later, they are still playing in my memory. For the last fourteen years, these concerts have been among the great joys of my life. They are occasions to savor.
On Saturday night and twice on Sunday morning, I had the privilege of preaching the Word of God. The process of preparing to preach and then of delivering the message is, for me, a rollercoaster of tension, fear, faith, prayer, study, writing, worship, joy and relief every week. I’ve been given that privilege and responsibility for 30 years, serving two wonderful churches in two continents of the world. I will not have this forever.
One way I’m learning to savor the work God is giving me now is to remind myself that one day someone else will be in ‘my’ office. Their books will sit on ‘my’ shelves. Their name will be on ‘my’ door. I try to remind myself of this often because it helps me to appreciate the privileges that are mine today.
Contentment consists in enjoying what you have, savoring what God is giving you now. In working life, it’s easy to lose the joys of what you have been given today by dreaming about the work you would like to do tomorrow or lamenting the work that did not come your way. In finances, it is easy to lose the joy of what you have been given in anxiety over what you have lost or in resentment over what you never had.
When you are single, it’s easy to lose the joys of freedom through a longing for marriage. When you are married, it’s easy to miss the joy of being loved by your spouse through a longing for a child. When your children are young it is easy to miss the joys of their early years through the demands that they bring. When your children reach teenage years it’s easy to miss the opportunities of their youth through the anxiety and conflict that these years may bring. When your children are gone, it’s easy to miss the joys of a new beginning because your nest is empty. When you reach retirement it’s easy to miss the joys of your freedom because you no longer have the strength and influence that once were yours.
Every life has its blessings and each season of life brings its own distinct joy. I live a better life when I focus on what God has given rather than what He has withheld or withdrawn. Join me today in savoring what God is giving you now.