I Thank My God
By Dr. Jack R. Hodges, Jr.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippian Christians, he is writing a thank you letter. He is thanking God for His faithfulness and Paul is thanking his brothers and sisters in Christ for their faithful and consistent participation in the gospel. Paul fondly remembers how they came to Christ and how they have continued to live out their newfound faith amid trying and difficult situations and circumstances. In fact, he is confident of one great and important thing, that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). The “day of Christ” that he is referring to is, of course, the second coming of the Lord—a specific moment in time when Christ will come and call His bride (the church) home to glory. Until that day comes, the Word of God reminds us that we are to be about the business of “being perfected” into the image of our Savior. This journey of being made like Christ is a long, hard, difficult one. It has many twists and turns, many obstacles and difficulties. There are so many opportunities to either live for Christ or live for ourselves. The thing is, when a person is living for themself, they are seldom thankful. But when we live for Christ, we recognize with spiritual eyes and hearts just what God has done and continues to do for us—and we are thankful!
Ever since our days as IMB (International Mission Board of the SBC) missionaries, my wife, Shawn, and I have loved traveling. We love and enjoy taking long road trips. Yes, the driving is hard; but there is so much to see along the way. Recently, we took a road trip out to the Phoenix, AZ area and back. We would drive and sight-see along the way. On this trip, we stopped in Abilene, TX to visit with some dear former and retired Gaza missionary colleagues for supper. Planning to drive another four hours after supper to arrive at Carlsbad, NM, our friends warned us that we needed to fill up our gas tank before we got off the Interstate. We did that and proceeded to travel along in the darkness on the two-lane secondary road headed to Carlsbad.
The speed limit on that road remained the same as the Interstate (75 mph). It was a rough road and I found myself constantly dodging potholes. About 20 minutes after turning off of the Interstate highway, I faintly saw what looked like a plastic bag in the middle of the lane ahead and decided not to dodge it. Bad choice! It was a rock—a big rock. I hit it hard in our low-riding Prius and we came to a grinding halt as I pulled off onto the side of the road. I could only imagine what damage had been done. Here we are late at night possibly stranded in the middle of “nowhere” in west Texas. I backed up, thinking that the rock was still under the car. But it wasn’t enough to release the bind. I backed up again, which released the bind and I went to assess the damage; hoping and praying that we weren’t immobilized. I crawled under the front on my back to assess the damage with my phone’s flashlight while cars and trucks were flying by at 80-85 mph. The rock had split the front bumper and peeled back the undercover, which had been dragging on the ground. Praise God, no engine fluids were spilling on the ground—no serious damage! But now I’ve got a new problem! I’ve got to figure a way to either get the undercover off or somehow stabilize it. My small packet of tools wouldn’t fit the bolts.
Meanwhile, right at the exact place that we had backed to, Shawn looked down, and right there on the spot was a rubber tie-down cord with both hooks on each end intact. I tucked up the undercover and tied it to the grill. Surrounded by darkness, fear, and anxiety—God had provided what we needed. We had backed up to the right spot and God had provided what we needed! Is God good or what?
The next day, I surveyed the damage in the daylight and concluded that there was no need for any other cords to hold everything in place and we resumed our journey. God had provided not just what we had needed—but all that we had needed. He always does and always will! And when you and I recognize His goodness, mercy, love, and provisions, all that is left is to thank our God—and continue on living this journey of life serving Him with all that is within us. Always giving thanks to Him who is able!
Dr. Jack Hodges is the Senior Pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Morganton, NC. He has served as a pastor, a biblical counselor, and an International Mission Board missionary.