My favorite memory from my seminary education days is the “rabbit trails” that Dr. T. W. Hunt would take us down in the midst of one of his lectures. God has since called him home, but you might remember him as the author of the study guide Prayer Life: Walking in Fellowship with God. It along with Dr. Henry Blackaby’s study Experiencing God have been two resources that I have regularly recommended and returned to when I need to be reminded of the basics of the Christian walk.
Dr. Hunt taught a music class that was a basic requirement for those of us who were pursuing a Master of Divinity. I remember a few things about music from the class, but more about developing an attitude of genuine thankfulness in my prayer life. One particular rabbit trail was imprinted upon my mind as Dr. Hunt began to give thanks for silverware, toothbrushes, and other common everyday tools we take for granted.
As a typical seminary student, we lived a very frugal life. However, as a non-traditional student who had walked away from an upper-middle-class vocation with three older children, we were living at a level significantly below what we had grown accustomed to living. God used the idea of being thankful for “small insignificant” things to get my attention. I must admit that it is easy to slide back into the entitlement mindset as a typical affluent American.
As a typical American, we rent a storage unit to hold “the stuff” that our house can’t hold. And yes, as a typical suburban American, we live in a nice sized home filled with lots of stuff. Normally, we would already be on the road connecting with family. But this Thanksgiving our plans are different. It is 2020! We will not be traveling for our traditional family gathering in Oklahoma. The recent COVID flare-up has taken that option off the table.
But we are deeply thankful for the fact that my wife Phyllis is home from the hospital and recovering from her bout with COVID. Having lost my first wife to a sudden infection, having Phyllis in the hospital brought back a flood of memories. So once again, God is reminding me to be thankful. This time it is for life itself. Thank you, Lord, for your compassion and care for Phyllis. Thank you, Jesus, for the salvation and eternal hope that You alone provide.
My prayer is that Thanksgiving 2020 will be a time when you and your family can give thanks to God for the multitude of “little insignificant things” that He has provided. I feel so unworthy of His love and provision. Thank You Lord! Forgive me Lord! Thank You Lord!
Retiring in April 2022, Mark R. Elliott served as a Director of Missions (Associational Mission Strategist) in Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska for almost three decades. He is a strong advocate for obedience and Biblically based disciple making. As such, he knows that making healthy disciples requires Christian leaders to be constantly pursuing spiritual maturity—be lifelong learners. Because of the time constraints of ministry, most pastors focus their reading list on resources that assist them in teaching and preaching the Word of God. As such, books focusing on church health, leadership development, and church growth tend to find their way to the bottom of the stack. With that reality in mind, Mark has written discussion summaries on several books that have helped him to personally grow in Christ and that tend to find themselves on the bottom of most pastor’s stack. Many pastors have found them helpful as they are able to more quickly process great insights from other pastors and authors.