What a wonder it is to wake up in the morning! Normally I would have added “and count your many blessings” to the end of that sentence. It is a good addition since we all have much to be grateful for at the start of each day, especially at the start of a new year. But the truth is, waking up is quite a blessing in and of itself.
Each morning has added meaning for me this year. At the end of last summer, I experienced a heart attack. It was the last Saturday of camp and I was helping lead a hike with some 16-year-olds who were in the middle of their two-week adventure. Thankfully, our hike leader was also a paramedic, who moved immediately to action. It was a close call, it was scary, and it was unexpected. Just like so many of life’s twists and turns, I was not ready for this shock and at the same time I can see how much of my life had been preparing me for this event. I see it as my invitation to living life in a more abundant way. It is like God to use all of life’s ups and downs, especially the downs, to move us towards wholeness and freedom.
I am sure that many of you have had your own health concerns, close calls, heartaches, and sorrows. There is much common ground in all of life’s challenges. Each challenge, setback, and struggle are life’s many reminders that we are not in control. This message, one that we all must learn, is a wonderful and difficult truth. It hits at the very core of who we think we are meant to be in this world. The good news is that God is continually inviting us into a bigger world where God’s love is the final word. God invites us to let go of control and move to gratitude and generosity.
Each Fall and Spring, during our Father/Son Weekends we ask the dads this question: What are you grateful for and how does that gratitude lead to generosity? As the dads share, everyone is reminded of the simple blessings that we often take for granted: each breath, our families, another day, and a God who is constantly caring for us and growing us through all of life joys and challenges. May this New Year be one of gratitude and generosity for all of us.