For Reading Around the Thanksgiving Table: A Parable

Weary from the week and frankly with nothing better to do, Sam went to bed. Besides, he had to winterize the home in the morning. If the weather cooperated, he might even throw up some Christmas lights. Something he hadn’t done for years. He hadn’t been real “Christmasee” for a while. He hadn’t been since the wife left him and the kids had moved out.

Maybe if he joined the rest of the neighborhood in Christmas cheer, Hazel from next door would stop giving him the stink eye when he got the mail and retrieved his garbage can from the street. Sam thought he was on the receiving end of the sneer because his house was the only dark one on the block and was without any Christmas cheer. That wasn’t the reason for it. It was a bit simpler than that. Truth be told, Hazel had a stink eye and the sneer was always there. She may have her own parable written about her another day.

Up the stairs and off to bed Sam went. Soon asleep, the night vision began. The dream was more vivid than usual. Normally in black and white, this one was as they say, in technicolor.

An angel had taken him by the hand and ushered him into the heavenlies. Everything was pastel and without form. The scene reminded him of the Monet impressionist print the “ex” hung in the hallway for years.

The angel said he had something for Sam to see. He led him to what appeared to be a list. It was a scroll partially unrolled. The heading read, “Sam’s Thankful List.” He knew that’s what it was when he looked at the last item. Just yesterday he thanked God for not getting pulled over by the cop hidden on the side of the road. Sam was going 15 over but the policeman’s head was down at the time. “Few. That was a close one,” Sam recalled saying. “Thanks, God. Appreciate it.”

Curious about what else was listed, Sam unrolled the scroll a few feet. He noticed there was a date and time stamped to the side of each thank you offered. He noticed something else. There were great gaps between items on the list. In fact, the more he unrolled, the more he realized his “Thankful List” was short. It wasn’t much longer than his weekly Costco shopping list.

“Strange,” he muttered. “I thought I was more thankful than that.” The angel, quick to respond, “Nope. You are not. That’s what I wanted you to see.”

“There is another list over here, Sam”, the angel interjected. Close to the first scroll was another one. It was entitled, “Sam’s Ask List.” Upon a closer look, the list was much different. Unrolling it he saw that it was stuffed full. The day and time stamps revealed ask upon ask; request upon request. Some of them even demand after demand—and most of them selfish in nature

Then the angel pointed. Sam looked and saw there were bookcases and shelves filled with scrolls all labeled “Sam’s Ask List.”

“He doesn’t mind the asks,” the angel said of the Father, obviously referring to God. “But your lone thankful scroll reveals a heart that is anything but. You are a taker, Sam. You act as if God exists to make you happy. You act as if He is your personal assistant. You act as if God the Father is your butler, your maid, and your servant. The impression you give is that He exists for you. Is that what you think?”

Then the alarm went off. For one of the few times in his life Sam was glad it did. He was embarrassed. He was uncomfortable. He was convicted.

Sam slid to his knees and began the day differently. What came forth was a beautiful prayer of gratitude for the undeserved blessings God had poured out upon him. He prayed out loud. He did so for some time. He didn’t even ask for anything this time; it was only a prayer of thank you’s and praises.

For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
November 25, 2021

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