This past weekend, my husband and I took our 5-year-old son on a 2-day trip to Lancaster, PA. We spent our first day at Dutch Wonderland and the second day at a few other area attractions. It seemed that no matter where we were, our son wanted to be somewhere else. He was unappreciative of the sacrifice of time, money and energy that it had cost us to provide this trip for him. We got a powerful dose of the ungrateful attitude that we believers often give to our Heavenly Father, and it made us more appreciative for what God had sacrificed to give us all that we have.
In spite of our son’s attitude during our trip, we did not love him any less. Nor does God love us any less for our attitudes, but He does want us to understand the fullness of His grace toward us so that our attitudes will change. On the way home from that trip, we were still about an hour from home when our car suddenly broke down and we had to pull over alongside of a busy highway. God’s grace began to be immediately apparent to us.
We were along a two-lane stretch of highway with a wide shoulder and fields to our right. The car was a safe distance off the side of the highway. To our left—a golf course with a wide section of lawn near the highway and on that lawn stood a tall shady tree. The tree was a real grace because it was a hot, humid day. We were thankful that the car had not broken down in the midst of the 6-lane traffic we had just passed through only 15 minutes prior. We were thankful for that tall shady tree along the golf course where we waited for the tow truck. We were thankful for our cell phones—a convenience we had not grown up with—and thankful for AAA, a service I had lobbied hard to get my husband to cancel this year because I was certain we wouldn’t need it. (I was thankful my husband had stood his ground and kept the AAA membership.)
As we sat under that tall shady tree, a warm breeze blew over us, breaking up the heat of the day. I was thankful for that breeze and as appreciation grew in my heart for how the Lord had cared for us in our circumstance, I began to tell my son that God, because He loves us so much, had provided this tall shady tree for us just for this day. My response to God over our circumstances began a change in my son's attitude.
In the midst of seeing us bow our heads and entrust our lives and our car to God, our son’s attitude began to show improvement. He became thankful for the adventure of riding home over the mountains in the back seat of a tow truck. I wondered if his attitude earlier in the trip had also been a reflection of my own attitude toward God. Had I thanked the Lord for providing time away? Had I thanked Him for the finances to make the trip at all? We learned a real lesson about the fullness of God's grace that day. In the end, what could have been chalked up as a horrible vacation became a great adventure. The difference? An attitude of gratitude for the grace God had given us.