17 ¶ How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. Psalm 139:17-18 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash
When I was a little boy, I didn’t kneel down beside the bed when I said my prayers at night. Instead, I just prayed to the Almighty while I was cozily tucked in between the blankets. I believed that the Lord would hear and answer my prayers anyway. And I believe He did.
Usually I would ask God to bless individuals, and I listed each one by name. I wanted to be sure to “God bless” all the people who needed blessing, and that was an incredibly long list. And the list seemed to get longer every day.
Now, when you’re in kindergarten, there is a real “occupational hazard” to doing this. Often the length of my prayer list exceeded my ability to stay awake. Many, many nights I would fall sound asleep in mid-sentence as I was talking to the Lord.
I always felt a little worried when I woke up in the morning. When you fall asleep in the middle of your prayers, is that the spiritual equivalent of “leaving your phone off the hook”? Had God been on “the other end of the line holding the receiver” waiting for you to say “Amen”? It wasn’t something I often thought about.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the Bible actually addresses this topic in a roundabout way. Look what the Psalmist says in today’s Scripture lesson (at the top). David says he loves the thoughts of God because they are wonderful. When he tries to count all the wonderful things God does, it takes so long that he falls asleep. But when he wakes up, the Lord is still with him. In my book, that’s a good thing to know—that the Lord is still with you.
A lot of us were born (or brought up) to have perfectionist tendencies. It can be a blessing because it makes us strive to do quality work. But if we’re not careful, perfectionism can backfire on us. We avoid doing things that need to be done, all because we’re afraid we can’t do them perfectly.
Because we can’t accept our imperfections, the world goes without the (imperfect-but-entirely-good-enough) blessings we could provide. And believe me, the world needs all the help that each of us can provide right now. The help you provide doesn’t have to be perfect.
Sometimes I’ve felt overwhelmed at the Thanksgiving season. I can’t pray an appropriate prayer at the holiday table that expresses the kind of gratitude God ought to receive. After all, it is impossible to finish the list of all the things for which God deserves to be thanked. And there is just no possible way to thank God ENOUGH for all He has given and for all He has done. It makes me want to shy away from even trying.
But this Thanksgiving (and every night) let’s strive to give thanks that is fitting to the Creator of all good things. We are imperfect, but He is our loving Saviour; isn’t that the message of the Gospel?
And don’t worry if you fall asleep trying to thank Him. When you wake up, He’ll still be with you.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 30 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher’s wife sent “honeybun cake” to school for all the Preacher’s schoolteacher-friends this week.) Their kids include Spencer (age 24), his wife Madeline (age 24), and Seth (age 21). You can send him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org .