A new kind of thanks

Bishop Gary E. Mueller

Bishop Gary E. Mueller

Thanksgiving may seem to be living more and more in the shadow of Christmas, but it’s still a profoundly important day on which we give thanks for all of our blessings.

I am so very thankful for mine.

I am deeply thankful for my family; for my friends; for my brothers and sisters in Christ; for the people called United Methodist in Arkansas—both laity and clergy; for shelter, medical care, food and clothing; and for beauty, laughter, celebration and unplanned moments of grace.

But while I am genuinely thankful, I also have to admit I sometimes struggle with being thankful. And, sadly, it’s on me because I too often default to making my thanks all about me.

It’s easy to be thankful when things work out the way I think they should, when I get what I want, when good things happen to those I love and when potentially devastating outcomes don’t occur. And, frankly, I’m really good at offering flowery thanks to God for managing things just the way I want.

But I know in my gut that my self-focused thanks to God often ends up putting a barrier between God and me. So this year I’m working on giving a new kind of thanks.

I am thankful God loves me unconditionally. Yes, it’s all about grace. God loves me just the way I am—in my best moments, my worst moments and all those moments in between. And nothing ever will negate this love.

I am thankful God loves me transformationally. God loves me so much God is never satisfied with me staying just the way I am. Indeed, God is at work in my life right now, transforming me from the inside out, in a great adventure filled with graceful surprises and painful pruning.

I am thankful God loves me invitationally. God loves me enough to invite me to be part of God’s mission in the world. Imagine it. God calls me to share Jesus’ Good News, to make disciples and to transform lives, communities and the world—all on God’s behalf.

And here’s what I’m discovering. The more I give this new kind of thanks, the more I experience the fullness of life that God has created me to live and to share with others.

Thanks be to God!

Grace and peace,

Gary E. Mueller