Reverend Timothy Dahl stepped off the platform after the benediction and walked quickly down the center aisle to the back of the church. He grasped my arm as he passed and whispered to me.
“Joe, could you wait in my office for just a few minutes? I’d like to speak to you.”
“Sure!” I said. Turning to my wife Sue and cocking an eyebrow quizzically at her, I asked her to wait a few minutes and then walked toward the office. I couldn’t imagine what he wanted to see me about, but I sat down to wait. My thoughts turned to the wonderful service we’d just had.
One of the first things Reverend Dahl had initiated when he’d come to St. Mark’s ten years ago was a quarterly evening service called “The Concert of Blessings.” People were given the opportunity to give a brief testimony of some blessing that God had given them. It always choked me up to hear people share something special that they were thankful for. As Reverend Dahl hurried in and sat down opposite me, he had an odd, almost helpless look on his face.
“Wasn’t it wonderful to hear that Mel found a wife after those five lonely years he endured after Martha died?” he asked. I nodded. Mel had looked like a lost puppy during those years. It was good to see him happy again. “You’ve been married how long now, Joe?”
“Twenty years and counting!”
“And wasn’t it a blessing to hear that Myra Hendricks’ cancer is in remission?” Again I nodded, puzzled at the conversation. “You and Sue have hardly been sick a day since I got here. Isn’t that right?” continued the pastor.
“Yes, that’s true. We’ve been very fortunate, actually. I don’t think either of us has had anything more serious than my broken toe,” I answered.
“Didn’t you enjoy hearing about Jill Henley’s job? She’s been out of work almost two years! What a blessing that she finally was hired!”
“Yes,” I agreed. “I’m really happy for Jill. She’s been struggling financially for a long time.”
“Well, Joe. You’ve pretty much worked for the same firm for the whole time you’ve been married, haven’t you – and didn’t you get promoted last year?”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“Well, Joe, I just don’t understand it. You have a wonderful wife, a good job, and great health. You’re one of the most blessed men I know. Yet you never give a testimony. You never say thank you for any of these things. I’m curious. Why is that?”
“I don’t know,” I said. It had never occurred to me before, but Reverend Dahl was right. I suppose I’d always thought a testimony about God’s blessing had to be dramatic. I never thought of the fact that all the things that didn’t happen to me were a blessing. I’d never considered how blessed I was just to be spared some of the hard things my friends had faced.
As I sat there with the pastor, I remembered the conversation I’d had with Sue earlier. I’d spent a half hour complaining about everything from how the rain the day before had ruined my golf game, to the messy kitchen, to the evening news.
“You’re always so negative, Joe,” Sue had remarked. “How about looking at the good things once in a while?”
“What good things?” I’d retorted. Now I felt ashamed – and I knew it was time to change my ways. The first thing I intended to do was thank my pastor for the gentle and loving rebuke. The second thing was to go find my wife and tell her how thankful I was for her. But the most important person I needed to talk to was the Lord. I needed to tell Him how sorry I was for my ungrateful heart.
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