One thing that I really look forward to as we begin our time of furlough every three years is spending some time at a small par-three golf course just outside of Dover, Delaware. This morning, August 7th, I visited Par-Three and in the Delaware heat and humidity enjoyed my first round of golf in nearly three years.
It was summer six years ago when my sons and I were on this small, deteriorating but cheap, par-three golf course. As we played from one green to the next I observed the owner (who owns several golf courses) sitting on a bench looking over the course with a troubled look on his face. As we played by the place he was sitting I walked over to him and thanked him for making this place available to folks like us who cannot justify paying the high prices that fancy golf courses charge.
Three years ago, I was again playing on the course but there was a marked improvement in the quality of the course. The owner was there again and I told him how much improvement I saw as I played around the golf course. He looked at me and his face brightened as he asked if I remembered the conversation we had three years earlier. He then shared how he had been contemplating closing the course for several reasons, but when I came to him with words of gratitude he decided to refocus, do what it would take to get the course into better condition and remain open to the public.
Now, I visited the course again. The course was beautiful. As I sat re-hydrating in the shade outside the office I was amused as a group of senior citizens came through bantering with each other and laughing. One of the long-time employees walked up to me and asked if I remembered the conversation I had with Rick (the owner) years earlier. I replied, “Yes, and the place is beautiful today.”
A word of gratitude can be so helpful when one is struggling. This summer as we mingled with folks at BMA Convention, I was encouraged by how often someone approached and said thank you for serving. A simple expression of gratitude left me eager to continue. Does God desire my pure and simple gratitude?
Had I approached Rick with suggestions on how he could improve Par Three (and I could have given some suggestions) I wonder if he might have chosen to quit. The truth is that he knew what needed to be done. He needed someone to show appreciation and gratitude. My gratitude did not cause the changes that were needed. What my gratitude did was encourage the one who could implement good improvements.
How frequently I express gratitude to manipulate God or others so that my requests might be more easily received. I also know the dread I feel when I think someone is complimenting or thanking me just to set me up for advice or suggestions and how hurtful and artificial the former compliments feel.
Psalms 106:1 "Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"
Psalms 107:1 "Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! "
Yes, God wants to hear my requests! However, I do not give gratitude to God because I want to manipulate Him to do what I want. I am grateful to Him for who He is and for what He has already done for me. He is good, and His steadfast love endures forever.
--Written by D.T.