With the craziness of this presidential campaign almost totally behind me (the 2020 campaign starts in just a few months), I have had a chance to evaluate the blessings in my life. In the past, I didn't pause to do this. I was looking forward to see what was next and I didn't stop to give thanks for what I had. Now, I give thanks everyday.
I must thank God for blessing me with each and every day. I don't think most Americans stop to do this every day. I know I didn't do this for the longest time. For that, I ask God's forgiveness. I should never look past the gift of life and all that is included in that.
I give thanks for the people God has placed in my life. I used to think that I was better off being on my own and not having to worry about anyone else. I was so wrong. After my experiences of the past 9 months, I have come to the realization that we all need a group of people to call on when we have a need, whether that need is just a need for someone to talk to or a need for someone to pray for you. I can attest to the power of prayer because I have seen prayer work in my life and knowing that there are people praying for you is a powerful reminder of God's goodness and His grace through His Son.
A few people come to the forefront in my mind. One is my pastor. Joseph Brown has been a blessing to me. His counsel has meant a great deal to me. His preaching has changed my life. Too many churches are legalistic and don't welcome every sinner through the door. Joseph is not that man. He wants to share the Good News, so that no man may perish. Another is Marlin Bontrager. I had never had an actual male role model growing up. Marlin is that role model for me now. He is a good father and a good witness for Jesus and biblical values. I'm glad I can call both of these men my friends. I must also acknowledge Allison Bontrager. All of her siblings mean a great deal to me, but it has been Allison who has been there at God appointed moments to offer a word of encouragement or a kernel of wisdom. She has a strong personality that rises above the muck and mire of today's self centered culture. She has a servant's heart for God and she serves as a light to other young women. When my confidence in the Lord could have been shaken, she acted as a clarion call to turn and seek God's face, and for that, I am eternally grateful. I also want to acknowledge a few more church members. Wilson Leppert has become a good friend and someone whom I can bounce ideas off of. We share similar outlooks on life and he is a good guy to talk to. Pete Schaeffer has been a light, as well. He is another man whom I can look up to(or down, if we're talking about height. I had to go there, Pete.) He is always ready to make someone laugh and I need that. He and his wife are bedrocks in the foundation of Marion Avenue Baptist Church. I don't think anyone at church is more synonymous with Marion Avenue(outside of the Brown family) than Pete. Just ask any one of the thousands of people every year who attend the Live Animal Christmas Play.
I am blessed to be in a church that is active in evangelism and outreach. I am so thankful and blessed to be a part of something that is much greater than me.
Lastly, I want to thank my mom from putting up with me for so long. I know I was a pain, from time to time. She endured so much for my sister and me. She didn't have the greatest example of a mother to draw from and yet, she has done her best in raising my sister and me. My mom has been a blessing, even if she worries too much(trust God and you won't need to worry, mom).
In closing, I want to leave you with a quote from one of the people I acknowledged above, "Don't forget to put on the armor of God every day (Eph. 6). And remember, it is not about being strong. God wants to be strong through us when we are weak. And if you don't feel equipped for what He is calling you to do, "He doesn't call the equipped, He equips the call." Go to Him in prayer and fasting when the way is dark and He will illuminate your path. One more thing- we serve a Savior who loves us at our worst. He breaks us to re make us- a more whole vessel than before." All I'll say to that is, Amen.