Many around the world are covetous of the United States’ Thanksgiving Day tradition. I’m writing this on the fourth Thursday in November, when Americans at home and abroad gather to enjoy a celebratory meal followed by a long weekend. They’re giving thanks for a number of particular reasons, flowing from the founding of their nation as marked by the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth Rock late in 1620, these settlers’ first harvest a year later, and the breaking of a serious drought in 1623. The original thanksgiving occasions took the form of grateful Christian worship meetings rather than a high-calorie meal!
The Netherlands is my country of origin and Australia my adopted country: sadly, neither has anything like Thanksgiving… nor do many other countries (other than Canada) to my knowledge.
In this post I would like to mention briefly some of my reasons for personal thanks. I regard God (as I’ve come to know God through Jesus Christ) as the ultimate maker and giver of everything that is good, and so I honour and thank God for who I am and what I’ve been privileged to enjoy.
- The life God has given me is increasingly a joy. I can look back over almost seven decades and feel grateful and satisfied. I’ve been able to live modestly by Australian standards and live well by any standard. Life has also taught me a lot about myself and living and working with others.
- The value of the 45 or so years of committed relationship with Helen is something I can’t even estimate! She’s been so much of what I’ve needed and it’s been such a privilege to be her man and the father of her children. She helped keep me focussed on God, been the passionate one to balance my calmness, reminded me of the need for an outward orientation, and has been a wise, considerate, and modest life partner. Our Christian faith and the example of our parents has kept us wholeheartedly and completely committed to each other.
- My life’s main work has been done mainly with the CRCA, a family of churches committed to the Reformed understanding of the Christian faith, arising from and inevitably reflecting its Dutch roots. But I’ve also felt and enjoyed the benefits of building friendships and support with other Christian leaders. When you work with people and a church, there’s never enough time, but it’s been rich and often rewarding.
- Retirement started just over two years ago and it’s been good. After 13½ years it was time to stand aside and let others guide the Campbelltown church, and at age 65 I was past being able to give long-term and wholesome leadership to another healthy church. But Helen and I have enjoyed the freedom retirement has given us to travel to keep in touch and where needed support our children and siblings, to volunteer, pursue new interests, devote ourselves to our garden, and do more justice to the maintenance needs of our home.
- Financially also, God has more than provided for our retirement. We have lived discreetly on a modest income and managed to build up a respectable retirement fund. It’s been reduced a bit by the GFC’s effect on shares but other than that has done well enough. The Australian pension scheme and other arrangements for seniors also help to enable us to travel a bit, do a few kind things, and pay the bills. What a blessing and privilege when we compare our situation with that of others in Oz and elsewhere!
- During the past year we’ve been able to visit each of our interstate children twice as well as helping out in two churches at opposite ends of our wide brown land – about which I have posted. What a fascinating, encouraging and refreshing time we had in those two very different locations and communities!
God has been so good to me – and I am deeply grateful.