As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, we need to remember it is never too late for gratitude. In the story of Jesus and the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19), we would like to think that if we were one of the ten healed from, at the time, a life-threatening disease, we would surely remember to go back and express gratitude for our healing. However, even after receiving grace, as in Jesus' parable of the man who was forgiven a large debt (Matthew 18:23-35), we are prone to quickly move on with our life.
Although we don't know the rest of either of these stories, we hope that a later change happened in their lives. It might be good for us to consider that God's Spirit is active and convicts us of areas in our lives that need healing and restoration, and gratitude. I would like to hope that perhaps at a later date, some of the nine lepers and the man forgiven the large debt, after life experience and reflection and conviction of God's Spirit, expressed gratitude for the gift they had been given.
So, let us extend grace to students and colleagues who seem to be mainly takers and do not seem grateful for God's bountiful gifts. Might we pray for them - not from any sense of superiority, for we are filled with our own blind spots and self-deception, but that the Spirit may continue to work in their lives and our own - convicting, prodding, nudging us to be more like Christ.
My confession - I was not ready to express gratitude for the gifts I had received from my parents until a number of years ago. Maybe it takes some of us to be in our 40s and 50s before we really are ready to do this exercise. Even though my relationship with them into adulthood was not what I would wish it could have been, that did not excuse me from not seeing the way God had used them in my life to bless and shape me into a follower of Jesus. Here are ten ways that I am grateful for how they nurtured and encouraged my faith through their lives and modeling.
Faith through tough times – Farming itself is an act of faith that is further complicated by the unpredictable. Natural disasters, droughts and floods, unexpected losses of livestock, machinery repairs and costs, and health problems were just some of the problems my parents faced in their chosen vocation – yet I saw a strong faith demonstrated in God’s providence and blessing.
Commitment to their marriage – It never entered my mind as a child that my parents would leave each other, even though they had some pretty good arguments from time to time.
Respect for creation – Animals and plants were treated with care, yet each in their rightful place as compared to humans.
Christian education K-16 – My parents were the first in their families to enroll their children in Christian day school education and took significant criticism for that decision from their families. Their hard work to get schools established in our small community remains an inspiration to me today.
Church participation – Attendance at services was regular as clockwork, and participation in available groups and classes was not a matter for negotiation by us children.
Eating meals together coupled with spiritual disciplines– Regular Bible reading and prayer three times a day – sometimes it seemed too much, but I do appreciate the foundational knowledge that I now have as a result.
Always helping neighbors and sharing – My mom was always sharing from our garden and bringing food, Dad lent tools and time, and listened to hurting people on his egg route into some very high-poverty areas.
Finances – Tithing and Christian education – my parents always made it clear to us that church donations and school tuition came first, and then we lived on the rest, no matter how little or much that may have been from month to month.
Encouraged my gifts – My mom did a lot of my chores so I could participate in sports and drama. My parents were always at every performance, if possible.
Loved those with special needs – Having Joe over for Sunday dinner and watching him eat was not necessarily pleasant for us kids but showed us our parent’s hearts for those with special needs. Their regular Sunday afternoon visits to a home for developmentally disabled adults modeled Christ’s love. I think this formed part of my own desire to begin my career in special education.
I encourage you to look back on your own life and consider how your faith was nurtured. Sometimes the things that at first appear mundane are very significant in nurturing and modeling the kind of faith we desire in our youth. Maybe you are not ready to share your list yet, but even coming to a point of gratitude is a gift of the Spirit in your life.
We are 70% full!
Our registration continues to be very strong, and we passed the 350 attendees mark this week. We will have a limit of 500 enrollees for this conference to be held at Surrey Christian High School. If you are planning to attend, it would be good to reserve your seat now.
Highlighting our pre-conference opportunities
Last week you heard from our host, Darryl DeBoer, at Surrey about the pre-conference that will be happening on March 8 at Surrey Christian. I want to say a few words this week about the Spiritual Renewal pre-conference - it will be held outdoors (weather permitting) in a nearby beautiful park and facilitated by three exceptional leaders - Donovan Graham, Joanna Levy, and Jim Peterson. Donovan is the author of two books - the best-known one is Teaching Redemptively: Bringing Grace and Truth into Your Classroom - a best seller in Christian education circles. Donovan now runs the Center for Teacher Renewal, offering retreats of varying lengths for Christian educators. Of course, Joanna Levy is well known in our CDL circles, having most recently served as head of school at New Covenant in Boston. Jim Peterson has moved in the past year from serving as head of school at South Christian High School in Grand Rapids to a stay-at-home Dad role and is passionate about the need for spiritual renewal for Christian school administrators and teachers. This pre-conference will be a unique opportunity for you to focus on your own rest and renewal in a beautiful setting led by three veteran and respected Christian education leaders. You can view more information here about all four of our pre-conference offerings.
Hoping you have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving next week and all year!
Editor's note: We hope to share with you each week articles of interest that you may have missed. This will include current information as well as previous blog posts from CDL that perhaps you didn’t have time to read the first time around. If you have items you think may be of interest, please feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.