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Gratitude

If you went into aviation, one thing you would learn to use is called an altimeter. It's the instrument that tells you how high your aircraft is--usually above sea level, but some of the really fancy ones can tell you both above the ground and above sea level. It's been a long time since I even read a basic aviation textbook, considering it made no mention of GPS and computer navigation back in those days. So I may not be exactly right.

What I do know is that you need help in keeping up with where you are while in flight. "Looks like it" is just not good enough and often leads to disaster. What does that mean for us?

Simply this: if you're flying, watch your altitude.

If you're not flying, you're good. Wait, that seems like a pointless blog post, doesn't it?

How about this instead: just as altitude checks are important for flight, gratitude checks are important for life. They keep us up from crashing, even if just barely.

And like the two forms of altimeter--above sea level and above ground level--there are perhaps two main forms of gratitude. Let us explore them and express.

Above sea level, or absolute, or standard, or fixed-point gratitude would be the gratitude we feel toward the immovable realities of life. This starts, as a Christian, with my gratitude to God for all that He has done. For making a world in the first place. For not scrubbing the whole thing when humanity brought sin into it. For not scrubbing the whole thing every time humanity mucks it up again.

For salvation through Jesus and the reality that He died for sinners--and I'm a sinner, so He died for me. For the blessed truth that He was greater than all my sin and rose again, that the gift of God is salvation by grace through faith. And that God has not left us alone on this earth.

Then there are the smaller realities. I'm thankful for those who founded an imperfect country and left us with the means to make it better. I'm thankful for those who have laid their lives on the line to keep us in that country.

I'm thankful that Carl Hibbard, Sr., decided he wanted a different life than the Kentucky/W. Virginia coal mining life.That Harry Rose decided Pennsylvania was too cold and moved to Florida. That the Army let Dad out a year early, For all the things that came before, setting the stage for the blessings of life I started with.

Then, there's the other form of gratitude. Like the above ground level altimeter, this one reflects on what is going on right here, right now. In that department, we find the gratitude for how we are where we are, and how we make it any further.

Like having a very gracious and loving wife. Being grateful that we all get choices about what to eat, rather than not having enough food at all. For 3 kids who are, generally, pleasant to be around. And for all the little things that are underneath that concept.

For a church family that loves us and prays for us. For a job. For clothing to wear.

On down to the finer details, like being thankful for good coffee.

The key is this: how much do I have that is beyond what I deserve? Or, truthfully, beyond what I could do for myself? The more we realize just how much we need each other, the more we express gratitude, the better our lives work in community.

So take time and work on that idea for a little while. What are you grateful for?

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