Archive for category Thankfulness/Gratitude

The Best Gift

I took my nephew, Ezra, “Gummy Bears” yesterday, a big box of green, yellow, red and orange colored gum drops in the shape of bears. He was not feeling his best yesterday, and for the first time that I can remember I had to coax a smile from him.  I’d just assumed that was his job, the provider of smiles and extraordinary happiness.  Even while sick with pneumonia, a collapsed lung, rash, and fever, he always smiled at you and greeted you as if he had not seen you for 20 years. He makes you smile! It is infectious! But not yesterday. Yesterday he seemed sad and tired.  This was disconcerting.  I sat with Ezra for a while and got him to eat a few bites of his lunch.  He didn’t want to eat much,   so I offered him a few of the “Gummy Bears” of which he took one and slowly chewed .  He offered me some, and I ate a red one.  I asked him if he wanted to play with his ball that Mrs. Jane got him for his birthday, but he didn’t want to play.  I even let him look at my iPhone, which I don’t like for him to play with, but he took it only for a second and soon put it down.  He was wearing a nasal oxygen feeder which was hooked up to a monitor, and every time his numbers would dip below 89, the alarm would go off.  This happened a lot. I would get up to turn the alarm off and then sit back down next to Ezra and ask him, “Are you OK?” He would nod his head and say, “Yeah.”  This went on for over an hour.  I must have gotten up and turned that alarm off a dozen times and each time asked Ezra the same question, “Are you ok?” When I came back to sit down after getting up again to turn off the alarm, Ezra reached out his hand to me and said, “Old.” I laughed and said to Ezra, “Yes, Uncle Darryl is old.” He held out his hand again and insistently repeated, “Old.” “Ah,” I thought, “He wants a “Gummy Bear.”  I offered him one to which he shook his hand and said, “Noooo!” Just then the alarm went off. I started to get up when he reached out his hand to me again and emphatically said, “OLD!” I held his hand.  He grabbed hold of my hand, turned his head and continued watching Alvin and the Chipmunks on TV. Breathing heavy, tired of lying in a hospital bed, feeling absolutely lousy, a seven-year-old child with Down Syndrome, pneumonia, a bad heart, poor immune system, and a wire from his heart surgery sticking out of his chest was now comforting me.  All I could give him was a box of gummy bears and fret about his condition.  With one hold of the hand he calmed my spirit and said with words that were not uttered, “It’s OK. I’m sick, but don’t worry! That alarm’s not bothering me, so please leave it alone, sit down beside me, hold my hand and watch Alvin and the Chipmunks with me!”  I did!  We watched, he giggled a little, the alarm went off, he sighed, we ate gummy bears and I remained calm and assured that he’ll be ok.  Sometimes it is better to receive a thing than give.

I’m reminded of a verse in Ephesians 6:7-8   Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,  (8)  knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Often we commend one another to be busy in giving as we should, for the scriptures plainly teach in Act 20:35 … ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”   Likewise, we should equally be ready to recognize and receive with gratitude, the blessings that God is sending us.

Consider the reciprocal effect of giving and receiving.  The above mentioned passage from Ephesians teaches that giving is simply a path to receiving.  When we make the effort to give of ourselves and do so from a motive of love and compassion, we equally should look forward to receiving wonderful gifts from God.  The passage is not saying that if we give $500, we should expect a return on investment of $1000.  This is the “prosperity gospel” that has been propagated by false teachers for eons and its only gift is one of despair and emptiness.   Giving of ourselves in service to God and others should never be out of a motivation that we’re going to receive something back in return.   What we should expect is spiritual wealth rather than material gain.  We should recognize God’s blessings and receive them with warm thanksgiving!  The most wonderful experience in giving is a profound blessing from our Heavenly Father who knows how to give the best gifts. (Mt.7:11). Sometimes it may even be the hand of a sick child that reassures and says, “Everything is going to be OK!”

Darryl Fuller

A Hero’s Welcome

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Whenever I feel down or fearful of the world around me, something inside my brain recalls these verses; Heb 11:36-40  Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  (37)  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated–  (38)  of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.  (39)  And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,  (40)  since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.  I must not let them down! I must not make light or have little regard for our Savior, which is exactly what God provided, and is immeasurable beyond comprehension, better.  It is therefore so important for me to not faint or whine and cry about my circumstances, for they are far better because of His sacrifice.  For each and every moment that I am grateful to God for the sacrifice of His Son and obedient to His will, is a moment that I also give honor and thanksgiving to those who lived and died faithfully.

                I have never seen the Golden Gate Bridge from the Pacific Ocean but for 272 men aboard the USS General Anderson, on March 8, 1945, the first sign that they were home was this engineering marvel, piercing the morning fog. Overcome with joy and sorrow, these men wept as they passed under the span above. Most of San Francisco turned out to welcome these heroes, and lined the bridge tossing notes, flowers, beads and jewerlry to the boat deck below.  These 272 men were Ex-POW’s and had endured perhaps the most horror of any war. They were what was left of 8000 men who were sentenced to torture and imprisonment in one of the worst Japanese POW camps, Cabanatuan. These men had survived the  horrors of the ill fated Bataan death march, after the fall of the Philippines in the first part of 1942. They had endured the worst of diseases such as malaria, diphtheria, dysentery, beriberi, cholera, dengue fever, just to name a few. A lot of the men suffered from combat wounds and were neglected treatment for gunshots, mortar shrapnel, and dismemberment and bayonet impalements. For the 8000 men that were brought into Cabanatuan, only 500 would be liberated in January of 1945. The tortures and malnutrition they received are not even appropriate to tell here in this format.   They were so mistreated that for many, upon their liberation, died, not able to make the journey across the rice paddy fields of Luzon.  (See poem at bottom)

The Hebrew writer continues the thought from above in the very next chapter; Heb 12:1-3  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  (2)  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  (3)  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

At certain times men and women have been called on to endure terrible and oppressive circumstances.  Like all the men and woman who have suffered and given their lives for our country, are men and women who have likewise, suffered and died for the kingdom of God.  In either case, we are the recipients’ of both fortunes.   In times of distress and petty misfortunes, let us remember the great sacrifices made on our mortal, physical behalf’s. Much more, give thanks to God above for the greatest sacrifice on our spiritual behalf.  It’s time to go to the bridge and send up prayers of thanksgiving for the ones who have suffered so.

Darryl Fuller

Westward we came across the smiling waves,

West to the outpost of our country’s might,

“Romantic land of brilliant tropic light”

Our land of broken memories and graves

 Eastward we go and home, so few

Wrapped in their beds of clay our comrades sleep

The memories of this land are branded deep

And lost is the youth we knew.

 One of Lt.Lee’s poems recovered from Cabanatuan

Things I’m Thankful for

I’ll be 51 in a little over a month.  God has been patient with me, blessing me all those years, and for that, I am thankful.prayer4

He saw me when I was a young man, had pity on me and brought me to a place where I met the most wonderful person.  He gave me a beautiful and loving wife who has helped me in ways indescribable, and for that, I am proudly thankful.

There is nothing in all of nature that can even compare to this enduring love.  No mountain, river, glacier, dessert-land, meadow or star above is as everlasting as this love he has for all of us. For that, I am truly thankful.

He is my master and teacher, my sovereign king and ruler of all that I am and can ever hope to be.  He leads me and shows me where to go and how to proceed.  He chastens me and warns me of dangers and things I should avoid. He is my Lord and savior, and for that, I am most grateful.

I’ve seen Him accomplish unbelievable things in my lifetime. I watched my children come into this world and have marveled at His handiwork as they have grown and matured into young Christians. I’ve seen Him and His amazing deeds through little ones whose hearts are near to God. I’ve witnessed His power through children who were on death’s doorstep, yet lived and prospered. Children, who would not escape death, yet faced it with the courage of a thousand warriors. I do not need the time in which He performed signs and wonders to understand and marvel at His mighty deeds, which are here for us every day, and for that, I am thankful.

I am constantly aware of Him, through His nature that envelops me. My life and the life of my fellow man, plus the plants and animals.  The rising of and setting of the sun, the moon and stars above as they move across the sky.  All of His creation, in harmony and rhythm, each doing its part to sustain our lives every breathing moment, and for that, I am very thankful.

I must turn and witness at the very precipice of death His awesome and frightening hand.  He has provided for us a path through the dark valley, a means of safety and salvation from the destruction of this world. A path that is in itself perilous, but the shoreline on the other side is in view and the journey across is not that far. He has provided a means of escape from the army of Satan, and for that I am so thankful.

I am often troubled by the leaders of our nation and the nations around us. Their decisions and counsel are disconcerting. Then I recall the master of us all, who rules and wills in the kingdom of men, and this brings me peace and comfort. Just knowing that God alone puts men in or takes them out of power is a great assurance, and for that I am very thankful.

In the kingdoms of men there is a kingdom that is above all and will endure forever. The church that Christ established is a wonderful gift and its blessings flow freely to us every day. For all my brethren both here and afar who share with me in this great inheritance, I am most thankful.

The Father above saw me in my state and condition, and again took pity on my soul. He sent His only son to suffer and die to rescue me from such a condition. He endured the stripes that were meant for me. He prayed many long nights for me. He walked over rocky land everyday to establish His church for me. He grieved and endured my sins.  He carried and was burdened down with my trespasses.  He bled and cried for my inequities. He despised the cross but endured the worst of suffering so that I would not.  He was hung on a tree for me, and for this, I am by His grace, humbly thankful.

He now sits at the right hand of God, Lord of Lords, King of all Kings. He gave me His words and the revelation of His heart.  He has revealed to me His promises and the fulfillment of those promises. He has given me everything that I need to live and breathe and have my very being. He upholds me, feeds me, clothes me, cleanses me, listens to me,  disciplines me, walks with me, talks with me and keeps me. He is my friend, and for this, I am forever thankful.

Psalm 35; 67; 105; 106; 107; 118; 136

Darryl Fuller