I am amazed at how often I transform joyous blessings into agonizing drudgery. That seems to be characteristic of Americans. Too many Americans believe the "ideal life" combines no responsibility with sufficient money to be self-centered. Unfortunately, too many Christians confidently accept this conviction without thought.

I truly enjoy what I do. I always have felt blessed to do what I do. My age reminds me that a radical change is coming. Because of "the passing of time" I physically will not be able to do what I enjoy doing. What a strange thought!

If life's only purpose is to be selfish and self-centered, life has no purpose. If all a person has to think about or consider is "me," that person's life is horribly empty. If "my" existence revolves around "my" pleasures and "my" desires, "I" am mixing the ingredients for a recipe of disaster. Consider:

Taking the garbage out is preferable to having no garbage.
"Having to work" is preferable to having no job.
Wearing clothes that are not "in" is preferable to wearing rags.
Having to attend school is preferable to not being able to read.
Mowing the grass is preferable to having no home.
Having "less than ideal" health care is preferable to having no health care.
Working is preferable to not eating.

Use your own life and experiences to expand this list. I have heard about people who ate other's garbage to prevent starvation. I have lived where there were no jobs, where some people wore rags, where many people could not read, where many people had no home, and where some people went a lifetime without seeing one doctor.

In two completely different contexts this summer I talked with individuals who (a) came from impoverished third world countries and (b) were visiting the U.S.A. for the first time. I asked both the same question and received from both the same answer. Question: "What most impresses you about this country?" Answer: "Your infrastructure. You actually can see what your taxes do."

Amazing! Not the food, the houses, the wealth, the pleasures, nor the lifestyles, but our use of taxes to create infrastructure! When was the last time you were thankful for our infrastructure? When was the last time you were grateful for the way our taxes are spent?

Perhaps we cannot be grateful for such things unless we live where there is little infrastructure, and we never see anything constructive produced by taxation.

By the way, when was the last time you felt deep gratitude for God's forgiveness?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 8 September 2002

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