“Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples!” 1 Chronicles 16:8 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
The water is off this morning. That’s something that happens when you live five miles from a town of 350 people and rely on the Tallahala Rural Water System. When I crawled out of bed at five this morning and turned the spigot, I heard a wheeze instead of a splash. That’s never a good thing. It made me think of something that poor Job said in the Old Testament. “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I dreaded has happened to me.”
My family has their morning routines down to an art and a science, and we are like a well-oiled machine in the morning. I always hate to tell Susan that the water is off. It’s a little bit like having to wake somebody up to tell them there has been a death in the family. Her response is always the same: “Oh no.” Even though it’s not daylight yet, we have to think, think, think: How are we going to regroup?
Fortunately, we had a few gallons of drinking water saved up in case we get hit by another Hurricane Katrina. I braved the winter weather to get the plastic jugs from the storage shed, and we used the microwave to knock the chill off the frigid liquid. Susan took a sponge bath. I washed and shaved in a bowl. We made phone calls so that the boys could take a shower at Miss Jean’s house, 15 miles away.
Whenever the water goes off, it bothers me because it makes everything so inconvenient. But whenever the water goes off, something else bothers me. I’m bothered to be reminded what an ungrateful person I am. You see, I’m always bent out of shape on the five days each year that the water goes off. But I am never extra-thankful on the other 360 days when we have water. And on those good days, I’m never mindful of the millions who don’t have clean water every day—much less running water that’s hot. There is something deeply wrong in my heart. I think it’s what the Apostle Paul called “the sinful nature”.
When I was a little kid, I sometimes heard people pray at the table, saying “Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly grateful.” I used to think it was a terrible prayer. I mean, why should God have to take the time to make us grateful? God isn’t going to do anything for us that we can do for ourselves, and I can be grateful on my on. A no-brainer.
But now that I’m a grown-up, I see the situation differently. We are all so richly and abundantly blessed but also hopelessly spoiled and ungrateful. We need to be different, but we can’t help ourselves. God’s going to have to work a miracle.
So, today when I eat my lunch, I will pray this prayer (from my Episcopalian friends): “Give us grateful hearts, our Father, for all thy mercies, and make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
And tomorrow, when the water is back on, I’ll try to remember to give thanks for my hot shower.
Dear mama, look around today and ask the Lord to show you things that you would miss if they were suddenly gone. Then point these things out to your babies, that they may grow up to have grateful hearts, too.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” *Sing that title to the tune of “Secret Agent Man” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 17) and Seth (age 14) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where Tallahala water is a little brown sometimes but still makes pretty good sweet-tea). You should write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.