In Paul’s epistle to the Colossians (2:7) he tells them that the continued growth in Christ, among other things, is made manifest by the quality of overflowing with thankfulness.
As I was flying home from Detroit where I saw many of my friends from my teenage and college days, I was reminded of the many people that have contributed to our lives, making us the people we are today.
In the early years of our lives, we had the constant presence of our parents and grandparents. They protected us, fed us, they taught us to walk and talk, and introduced us to all the things that children have to learn at home before they move in to society. (In our culture, when someone misbehaves in public we say that he is missing the first seven years of home training)
In addition, there have been the wonderful neighbors. They expanded the watch care contingent, they allowed us to try new boundaries, initiated us into new friendships, and taught us the concept of borrowing and bartering.
Then there have been our relatives. Those relatives that lived nearby and visited us regularly, and those whom we have seen only at weddings and funerals. Yet, in a unique way, they have shown how our family is much larger than our immediate family.
Many of us grew up in churches. We remember our Sunday School teachers, our music teachers, and the ladies and men that helped us memorize Bible verses and told us that they were praying for us on daily basis. We remember the preachers that preached the Word of God to us and even though sometimes we did not understand the sermon and we had to sit quietly through a long service, we knew that we were greatly loved in God’s house.
Many of us had teachers. Have you ever counted all the teachers you had from kindergarten until your highest level of education? When I think, from kindergarten to the conclusion of my PhD work, I have been in school close to 25 years, I had over 100 teachers.
Some of us had to leave our homes and get new homes, new languages, and new countries. All of these situations were possible because hundreds of people welcomed us, extended helpful hands, were patient with us, and helped us become something that often we did not think we could become.
As I was flying home where I am surrounded by my family and the church where I serve, I was overwhelmed by the hundreds of people that have made me the person that I am today. In the Thanksgiving metaphor, so many people have sown seeds in my life, so that I have grown in the person that I am today. In thinking about them, my heart was overflowing with thanksgiving to God for bringing all those people in my life and for the generosity of the gifts in my life. Indeed, my heart is overflowing with praise and thanksgiving.