CURSTIS SHELBURNE, pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe, writes a weekly column for the CNJ website. This is his latest submission:
I was listening to one of Garrison Keillor’s “News from Lake Wobegon” stories one day as he was talking about the deer hunting season that had just closed in (fictitious) Lake Wobegon right before Thanksgiving.
Keillor painted a word picture (which I’ve embellished a bit) of the locals watching as city folks came up in droves in their high dollar Hummers and SUVs. The city guys had their faces painted black, anti-scent scent sprayed all over their skin and the “camo” clothing engulfing their bodies. They went up to Lake Wobegon to bag a deer and to snag the unique excitement that buying meat at $200 per pound gives.
The local guys get a deer pretty much whenever they want one. Keillor says they park their old pickups, set up precliners, smoke cigars, play cards, tell jokes (often about city boys who dress like Rambo and spend $200 per pound for meat) and “ever so often a deer comes along and they shoot him.”
I’ll leave you to guess whose deer-bagging average is better.
Sometimes we just make things too hard.
Like giving thanks.
I’m afraid the witness of the church and Christian experience is unanimous: we don’t get to pick just the easy commands to try to obey. But the “giving thanks” injunction I’m focusing on this week, also from St. Paul’s pen, is this one: “overflow with thanksgiving.”
In my experience, “overflowing” usually holds a significant element of surprise. I’m thinking of “overflowing” sorts of experiences after eating too much Halloween candy as a child. Or too much paper down the porcelain. Or forgetting to turn off the water while filling the baptistry. Nobody plans those things; they surprise you — negatively.
Ah, but “overflowing” with thanksgiving is a great experience! First, we choose to be grateful people. Then God surprises us by opening our eyes over and over again to the bottomless depth of his goodness and grace, and the countless reasons, large and small, we have to be thankful.