In college I was more than an avid rock climber. In fact, my entire spring semester class schedule was built around my love of climbing. It was like playing a giant game of Tetris trying to squeeze all of my classes and labs into the beginning half of the week leaving me with four days off every weekend to climb but somehow I succeeded.
On one climbing trip to the Lake Chelan area, my climbing partner and I were installing a new climbing route when the unexpected happened. From some 35 feet in the air, off the face of a rock wall deep in the wilderness of the Okanagon-Wenatchee National Forest-- I fell. Luckily, I landed on my feet and somehow managed to not break any bones. I had severe rope burn on my hand, under arm and neck. My back had hit the rock face on the way down leaving a fairly deep scrape. I was in shock. I was bleeding. I was hurt. But, I was also alive.
I have a lot to be thankful for. We all do. If your family is anything like mine, however, you're preparing to go from a busy Fall into an even busier Holiday season. In the hustle and bustle of all the gift-buying, gift-giving, gift-returning and re-gifting, between all of the meals that we'll be sitting down to enjoy, it's easy to lose touch with the reason for all of this commotion.
In Psalm 9:1 the Psalmist boldly proclaims "I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."
I know this isn't always easy to do. Especially during times when it feels we don't have anything to be thankful for. In these times we have a tendency to focus on the negative. Instead of thanksgiving, our words turn into grumbling, complaining and bitterness. Sometimes the very things we choose to complain about are the things we should be thankful for.
That climbing fall left a scar on my back-- an ugly, jagged reminder of a mental mistake that I once made. I used to wish that it would disappear. I was self-conscious about the way it looked and hated it. But today, I am thankful for that scar. You see, if my back hadn't hit the rock, pushing me away from the wall, my head surely would have. If my head would have hit that rock wall, I might not have been here to tell you this story.
Like the Psalmist, I too will choose to proclaim, "I thank you, God, with all my heart, that you allowed my back to take the collision that day, so my head wouldn't have to. You, great Lord, have saved my life... I thank you, God, with all my heart, that You allowed Your Son to take the punishment that day, so I wouldn't have to. You, great Lord, have saved my life, indeed!"
Rob Brower is the Student Minister at Mountain View Church in Tumwater, WA where he lives with his wife and three kids.