Pastoral Article



I am not thinking of the things we can take for granted, for example, expecting the letter we post to be delivered. What I have in mind are those things we shouldn’t take for granted’, things like the reasonably good health we enjoy or our children or grandchildren. I am thinking of those times when we don’t bother to count our blessings. Or expecting something or someone to be always available. Worst of all those times when we take God and his help for granted.

What we need to do is to replace such negative thinking with a positive appreciation of what we have. We need to train ourselves to think of life as a gift . We might well not be here at all! We should live each day with feelings of gratitude, doing our best to be a blessing to others. It is reflecting on how much something or someone means to us. This is cognitive therapy. By moving from negative to positive thinking we become our own therapists! We train ourselves so that we take nothing for granted but count our blessings and give thanks.

Let me tell you how I was made very much aware of the importance of not taking things for granted. It was when I attempted to write my autobiography. My family urged me to do this when I was approaching my seventy – fifth year. I made a start, but I hadn’t got very far before I was reminded of how much I owed to others. First I thought how very fortunate I was to have had Christian parents. I was thankful that in Sunday School I memorized passages from scripture and from the Westminster Shorter Catechism I learned that “man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” What could have been more important? I recalled what I owed to teachers and lecturers and to the person who encouraged me to do research in the New Testament. I certainly did not take it for granted that Myrtle was my wife! Or the fact that we were blessed by three children. I thought too of the help I received from colleagues and neighbours when I began my work in South Africa and afterwards in Manchester. And now well into my eighties I dare not take anything for granted! Time and again I found myself involuntarily bowing my head and giving thanks. I try to make a practice of this here and niow.

The antidote to taking things for granted is counting our blessings and giving God thanks for our good fortune.

What about yourself? There is nothing quite like going over one’s life experiences for not taking things for granted. Try it!

Jack McKelvey