Today I read a short story that arrested my attention as I hope it will arrest your attention too. A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: “I am blind, please help.” There were only a few coins in the hat.
A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his own pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words. Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy.
That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were going for the blind boy. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked him, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?”
The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said, but in a different way. I wrote: ‘Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it.’”
What was the difference? Both signs surely told people that the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people that they were so blessed they could see and that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective? Sometimes pondering a new way to approach being thankful makes all the difference.
I’m hoping all of you had a day this past Thursday to ponder the goodness of God. I’m also hoping you had time to thank God for the kindness of many other people to you. Did you break out in thanksgiving? I know some of you as readers may be agnostic or atheistic in your beliefs. If so, have you enjoyed the beauty of the snow, the beauty of the blue sky, and the beauty of being alive? Are these blessings a conundrum for you? Knowing only God could give us life, snow, and blue skies, it is so sad to have no one to thank for it. That’s a pitiful plight to be in.
In this transition between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I hope you’ve noticed the truth that Thanksgiving is largely overlooked. Oh, I know there are more turkeys at the grocery stores, but aside from food, thanksgiving is a hard sell for commercializing. For that very reason, I love this time of year as it gives us all another chance to look up, to lift-up our heads, and to acknowledge the goodness of God in our lives and praise Him.
Many years ago, our own President Abraham Lincoln said these words I love to remember — they were his Thanksgiving Proclamation. “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated by unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” Sometimes it takes a man such as our past president, with such humble beginnings, to remind us.
At banquet, a man sat at his table and grew increasingly upset with the waiters. He watched them going from table to table serving coffee and tea. Twice they walked by him and looked at him, but they never offered him either coffee or tea. Others were faithfully served, but not this man.
Finally, in a huff, the invitee to the banquet stopped one waiter, and asked him, “What is the matter with me that you won’t serve me? What’s the meaning of me being repeatedly passed over?”
The waiter kindly smiled and said, “Sir, if you want to receive a cup of coffee or tea, you’ve got to turn up your cup. We only give to those with turned up cups.”
Maybe this year has been a hard year for you. It has been difficult for so many. Maybe you went through this Thanksgiving with your cup turned down. Turn your cup up. It’s high time. There is a reason for Thanksgiving for all of us, if we will only stop and put ourselves in an upward position of praise to Jesus, ready to receive what God has for us. He is waiting to fill your cup if you’ll turn it up.
Richard Carlson is the pastor of the Rock Springs Evangelical Free Church. Of his 52-plus years in ministry, he has pastored locally for the last 43 years.