A Christian farmer went to the city on business and stopped by a small restaurant for lunch. When his food was served, he bowed his head and gave God thanks, just as he always did at home. A young fellow at the next table noticed that the farmer was praying. Thinking that the man was a little backward and not in touch with “city ways,” he asked loudly enough to embarrass the farmer, “Say, farmer, does everyone do that out in the country where you live?” The earnest Christian turned to him and replied kindly, “No, son, the pigs don’t.”
When I heard my pastor, Dr. Paul Van Gorder, tell this farmer story, I was a teenager, living in East Point. The lesson both of gratitude and the gentle rebuke stayed with me. I mourn the loss of both traits in our world. We need to practice more gratitude and more gentleness today.
The more I observe people, the more I notice it is the exception rather than the rule to see people bow and give thanks to God in public. Perhaps that is a mark of our self-indulgent and ungrateful society.
You don’t have to listen long before you hear a tone of demand or entitlement in the conversations that dominate our airwaves and commentaries today. One of the great insights that can guide our behavior is an appreciation for the past. We are wise not to destroy what has been passed from those of another generation. When we learn to understand what was, we can more clearly articulate what we hope will be.
Change may come as a result of trampling under feet what we do not appreciate, but another view allows us to build on the successes that have been modeled for us. More is to be gained from “standing on the shoulders” of those who walked the way before us than is to be achieved by destroying what they left behind.
In Psalm 23, David reflected on the responsibility of caring for his flock. Perhaps he felt the pressure of keeping his sheep safe, but he learned a lesson of dependence and protection when he said, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”
Being thankful for a beautiful sunset brings joy to our experiences. Knowing Whom to thank for the sunset teaches us to be grateful. Prayer is our natural, grateful response.