Everyone is thinking about being thankful this week so it is comforting knowing that I am not alone on this bandwagon.
When President Obama said the words, “You didn’t build that,” back in 2012 and drew such ire from opponents, I was troubled. I understood what he was trying to say…that no one does things on their own without help from someone else. He probably could have found better words to express it, but it was in the heat of a presidential election campaign when if a candidate proclaimed that “one plus one equals two,” the other candidate would be compelled to disagree.
Christians more than any other group should have a strong sense of dependence rather than independence. The very fact that we are saved from eternal separation from God not because of anything we did, should be the starting point for that dependence on things outside of ourselves. And after Jesus was crucified, died, buried and resurrected back to life to defeat sin and death once and for all, he went back to heaven and left the Holy Spirit as our constant companion, guide, tutor and helper for the rest of our lives on this earth.
We are not our own or on our own. Ever. We were bought for a high price.
The moment we start taking sole credit for the inspiration, creativity, words and results of what we write or do, it should set off alarms in our head. With no acknowledgement that God was involved directly or how he worked through others in our lives, and how the abilities we have come from him, we begin a dangerous slide down a slope to pride that will eventually destroy us.
So today, I look at my life and can say unequivocally, “I didn’t build this,” and want to give thanks for a number of things:
For God who made and gifted us a certain way.
For Jesus who saved and taught us.
For the Holy Spirit who lives in us and guides us daily in this fallen world.
For the Scriptures that contain more than we can ever absorb in this life.
For family and friends who encourage us and hold us accountable.
For faithful teachers and mentors who take time to be taught and mentored themselves so they could impart skill and knowledge to us.
For editors and professional publishing people who trained diligently under others, listened to God’s direction and followed it.
For critics of our work who truly want to be constructive and help us become better at what we do.
For critics of our work who are angry and harsh and allow us to feel a bit what Jesus felt most of the time.
And for me specifically:
For my wife Carol who said yes 35 years ago and walked beside me in all the things God put in my heart.
For Dr. Herb Jacobsen, a college professor at Wheaton College who unknowingly led me to Christ in my Christ and Culture class in October 1974.
For Dr. Stu Johnson, my college advisor who aimed me in right direction and gave me the training and encouragement to pursue what God put on my heart.
For all the good things and tough things over the years that became iron sharpening iron and hopefully made me a little better example of a Christian man.
For my co-workers at The Steve Laube Agency who show me how to be better at both this agent thing and as a person.
And many more. Too many to name here. The band is starting to play which means I need to walk off stage.
No, I didn’t build this life. To think I did would deny all the work and commitment from so many others, including God himself.
So, next time you sit alone in front of a screen with a keyboard, remember the great cloud of witnesses, both spiritual and physical, and write for them with everything in you.
And next time you surprise yourself with something you wrote, may it simply confirm again that you do not write alone.
God blesses us with salvation, plus. I like your reminder that the ability to write and the instruction from others are gifts we should never take for granted. In my writing, the hardest prayer is for God to remove my ego from the process. He honors that prayer as he fine tunes the writing. How good to know our gifts come from him.
Though I’m deeply aware that my writing ability is a gift from God, I hadn’t thought about the “great cloud of witnesses” in that context. Interesting insight. Thank you.
Great post, Dan. It’s good to remember we do not write alone. I appreciate the reminder to be thankful for the difficult things (like critiques that are harsh) as well as the obvious blessings. Thanking God for the difficult things is a deliberate choosing, but an important one.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Dan!
Giving thanks for your God-given words Dan! What a blessing and reminder! There is a lot of ungrateful gobbling going on in the media, government, society and perhaps in us. Let us never lose sight of this fact; all our gifts and provisions come from the Lord. 🙂
Gratitude-provoking post, Dan. Thank you. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. I want to print that on my forehead for those mirror moments. 🙂
Thanks! This was a great encouragement. Timely perspective alignment.
Dan, thank you for this perspective.
Some of God’s servants have risen to heights, been acclaimed in the world, and gotten into trouble by believing their own press.
We must always remember it’s about Him, not us. He gives us that cloud of witnesses and helpers and mentors and teachers for the benefit of His family and kingdom.
We have much to be grateful for, not the least of which is that through the blood of Christ, He considers us worthy to be His children.
Nicely focused. Thank you.