Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dam Thankfull

There is a rather large dam in south-central Kentucky that has been leaking since 2005. To say this is a problem is an understatement; Nashville is not too far downstream and Lake Cumberland has enough capacity to cover the entire state of Tennessee with three inches of water.

In response, the Army Corps of Engineers dropped the water level 40 feet and started making repairs. As the water dropped, islands disappeared, and trash and debris emerged, clinging to the widening shore line like dehydrated marshmallows on the inside edge of a hot chocolate mug.

Who knew what was hidden in the depths? During a fishing trip in the summer of my 7th grade year, I remember watching a friend of mine submerge his empty 7up bottle, sending it to a watery grave on the lake floor. We watched the descent together, staring silently as if attending a junk food funeral. As the shades of green merged and it faded out of sight, he reasoned, "Who will ever see it?" Twenty years later the Corps estimates there is about 84,000 cubic yards of trash to be cleaned up. That would have been enough to fill the first five floors of one of the World Trade Towers. I guess a bunch of other 7th graders had the same idea.

So now we have a leaking dam, with a $300-600 million repair bill, and mounds of trash to clean up as well. Many people much smarter than myself have concluded that the country's financial systems are in a similar situation: the long ignored cracks are seeping seemingly beyond repair and there's a big 'ole mess left behind to clean up. I'm sure many of you have already felt some of the strain of the financial crisis, but this is not the first time our nation has hit upon hard times.

During the great depression, Harry Truman was serving his first term as a senator. He believed that the underlying problem was avarice, or "wild greed."

We worship money instead of honor. A billionaire, in our estimation, is much greater in these days in the eyes of the people than the public servant who works for public interest. It makes no difference if the billionaire rode to wealth on the sweat of little children and the blood of underpaid labor…. We worship mammon; and until we go back to ancient fundamentals and return to the Giver of the Tables of Law and His teachings, these conditions are going to remain with us…. There is no magic solution to the condition… but one thing is certain – no formula, however scientific, will work without men of proper character.

While reading the Bible with my son one morning this week I was encouraged by Paul's example in the midst of crisis. When locked in prison for proclaiming the peace of Christ, what did he do? He sang hymns of praise and thanksgiving. He was a man of character, with his hope firmly rooted in the "Giver of the Tables of Law."

Giving thanks is such an amazing antidote to so many ills we face. Upset that you wrecked a car? Give thanks that you live in a country that has cars. Perturbed that your spouse burned dinner? Give thanks for an oven. In a lousy job? Give thanks for a job! Most of us are so overwhelmed with material blessings that we don't have a proper perspective on what is and what is not a crisis (this is a real crisis).

As we approach this Thanksgiving, our family wants to be intentional to give thanks for all God's favor in our lives and continually recognize his goodness. Here are some of the things we are thankful for:

  • That in the midst of so much unknown he has given us the opportunity to adopt a baby boy in January.
  • That we can serve with a ministry seeking to heal some of the hurt that so many families have suffered. This will become increasingly important as many families suffer extra strain during times of financial difficulty. I’ve been working to help update our small group studies to give couples more tools for strengthening their marriage. I'm also helping with a new video based marriage conference. We hope to have a pilot ready in January, so pray for wisdom.
  • That there have been 13,000 people attend a Weekend to Remember conference since August, with 500 of those indicating a salvation decision. One couple sent this comment after attending: "Five years ago our marriage was in serious trouble and through your morning broadcasts I was encouraged to pray for my husband. He was involved in a relationship I was not aware of. We went to a Weekend to Remember and things started to turn around slowly. Thank you for your resources and wisdom."
  • My Son told me this week that he is thankful that it is "finally cold outside." Day time highs in Phoenix are still in the 80s.

This Thanksgiving, take time with your family to give thanks. While you're eating, take turns around the table to express gratitude for something. We've found Barbara Rainey's book, Thanksgiving, a Time to Remember helpful. Read all or portions of it. If you have lots of preschool children, paraphrase the story. The important thing is to remember why we celebrate Thanksgiving, and for each person to be thankful.


John and Pam said...

Did John Isaac write this title?

John C. Majors said...

no, it's spelled the wrong way.