By Bryce Ulrich
Do you remember the last time you took the opportunity to reflect on your life and see how the hand of God has worked on your behalf? This week is one of those times for me. As my family and I travel to Fort Worth for seminary graduation, I am reminded of the many stops along life’s journey where God has blessed and directed my path. So many times in the hustle and bustle of our culture I lose sight of the blessings in my life. I think many of us fall into that same trap and live a life of dread and despair instead of a life of joy and thankfulness.
As a result of my reflection this week, I would like to briefly share three of the reasons I am thankful for my life’s journey in hopes that you may find some joy and comfort in these as well. The first reason I am thankful is I serve a risen Lord who saved me by grace and not by works. What a great God we serve! While I still struggle at times to wrap my arms around the concept of God’s grace, I’m thankful that he willingly made the sacrifice to atone for my sins and transgressions. Not only has he restored me into a right relationship with him, but he also sustains me, protects me, and provides for me in this life. Not a day goes by that I don’t see the hand of God working in my life and in the lives of those around me. That gives me great joy and happiness and causes me to be thankful for what I have!
The second reason I am thankful is for my family and friends. God blessed me with a loving wife who supports me in ministry as we work side by side. Our son Hamilton is like the little energizer bunny that keeps going and going. In his short eighteen months of life, God has used Hamilton to provide immeasurable amounts of joy and happiness to not only our family, but also to many of those serving with us in ministry. I am also thankful for the godly men in my life who have served as mentors and friends. As Wade Potts described in his post, “Biblical Discipleship,” last week, I was blessed to have men in my life that not only built relationships with me but also taught me Scripture. I still have a relationship with many of those men today and look to them for counsel and guidance. For these friendships and relationships I am eternally thankful!
The third reason I am thankful for my life’s journey is that God brought us to serve at First Southern with a group of loving, dedicated believers who love the Lord. It is a pleasure to serve with a unified group of believers seeking to fulfill the Great Commission. I am also thankful to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, and the West Central Baptist Association and have the privilege to work with leaders in a denomination focused on reaching the lost for Christ. Many Southern Baptists never see the full impact of their Cooperative Program giving and don’t understand the Kingdom impact those contributions make. For example, I am thankful those CP dollars support our six seminaries and make theological training financially feasible for the next generation of leaders. I am also thankful those CP dollars support missions not only around the world through the IMB, but also in North America through NAMB. I am thankful for God directing my life’s journey to join with a group of other believers that desire to see the Great Commission fulfilled in our world today.
As spring turns to summer, maybe this is a good time for all of us to evaluate our own life’s journey in order to determine why we should be thankful. While your reasons may be different than mine, I do think that as believers we should be living lives full of joy and happiness that reflect our relationship with Christ. It is baffling to me why so many Christians are unhappy. How have we ignored the hope we have in Christ? Maybe we’ve become overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the world around us. Maybe we’ve experienced a difficult time of life that threatens to drain our joy. Maybe, just maybe, we haven’t taken time to look at our life’s journey in order to see the hand of God working in our lives. Whatever the reason, I encourage you to live thankful lives full of joy and happiness, and to hold fast to the promise given to us in Hebrews 10:23: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”