November 2001


My Thanks to the Shepherd

By David M. McNabb

I have understood for quite some time that thankfulness is not "event driven," but a state of mind. Just because you say "Thank you" to someone who has held a door open for you or given you a gift does not mean that you are a thankful person. In fact, one can be thankful even when seemingly no one has done anything at all for him or her.

Thankfulness is a way of life. It was thankfulness that allowed Job to take the good with the bad and bless the name of the Lord. It was with thankfulness that Paul rejoiced in his sufferings.

Every day we live is a gift from God to us. I have been personally blessed in my own life to have been born and raised in a God-fearing, Bible-believing home and introduced to Jesus Christ while still very young. The blessings continued throughout my childhood as my love for God grew and He and I developed a relationship.

Obviously, I had my own trials and struggles, but I did not go in the way of most children - even of those born into Christian homes - and did not wander into the world. For that I am most thankful. I watch as the young people seek pleasure in the world and have trouble relating to their pursuit, because I was enamored with God and His word throughout my youth, my teenage years, and to this very day. Called to preach while still very young, I was ordained at sixteen. I chose not to chase those things that would have jeopardized my ministry. I am amazed that many Christian youths are running after frivolity, utterly neglecting their spirituality, and give every praise and honor to God, knowing that by His grace alone did I avoid many of the devil's pitfalls.

I am reminded of King Solomon's admonition to the youth in Ecclesiastes 12:1, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, 'I have no pleasure in them.' " I am so very grateful that, for the most part, I look back on my childhood and youth with very few regrets. I pray that many young Christians would hear this admonition and have the same testimony.

The subject of Thankfulness reminds me also of the very popular Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Our great God is the shepherd and we - His sheep. Even as our children need not worry about the source of the next meal, we are led by our Master to green, fertile pastures. His abundance fills us, sustains us. He calms for us the troubled seas and makes a way when there is no way.

When we are weak, He strengthens us. When we are down, He restores us. He leads us in those paths of righteousness, steering us away from evil, that we might praise His name for ever.

Even when we are near death, we need not fear. He is with us - an ever-present comfort. As a shepherd extending his staff to gently guide his lambs to safety, the Lord ever so gently nudges us along. Sometimes, when we refuse to heed His tender prodding, He lovingly uses the rod of correction to rebuke us and keep us from harm.

When we are compassed about with danger and trouble, the Lord lifts us up and blesses us. He is glorified in our weakness by causing us to be victorious in the face of imminent defeat, even as Christ was victorious on the cross of Calvary, when that which seemed impossible to man was possible with God.

The last verse of this wonderful psalm is so beautiful. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." When we, without compromise, live for God, we are blessed both in this life, and beyond. Jesus, in Luke 18: 29-30, said it this way, "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."

Brothers and sisters, we have so much for which to be thankful. In all things give thanks to the Lord Most High, and may He richly bless you.