My very good friend, Daniel Mathews, is guest-authoring this Weekly Inspiration post. It has been an honor to have him in my life and truly a blessing to be a student of the religious proficiency that he brings to the table. He is a Good Sheep of our Great Shepherd and I cherish the time I have with him to sit and reflect on the Good News of the Bible. This is a story that hails from Dan’s recent vacation to the Tampa Bay area.
Just when I thought this trip couldn’t possibly go any better, two experiences took place which… well, you’ll see.
Blessings To Count
As I have done every evening since I got here, I repaired down to the water tonight to watch the gorgeous sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. There was a young married couple standing next to me. The wife asked me if I would mind taking their photograph against that dramatic backdrop, which I did. Then we got to talking. It came out in the conversation that he is a youth minister for his church. He told me that the most important lesson he tries to impart to his students is to be grateful.
HE: God is so very good to us. If only people would take time to be thankful for all that they have, instead of focusing on what they don’t have, perhaps their attitudes about life would be better. Just listen to all those beautiful sounds… The crashing of the waves, the cries of the seagulls, the live music being played on the beach… And the smell of the salt air, the scent of the barbecues and the fine cigars… How could we not be grateful?
ME: I quite agree. There is so much for which to be thankful… Of course, standing here on this beach I suppose it’s easy for you and me to say that. Most people on this planet have it a lot harder than we do.
HE: Perhaps. But they still have blessings to count. Everyone does.
At that point dinner beckoned, and I rose to take my leave. I held my hand out to them and bade them good night. I was a little surprised that he didn’t take my hand. He just stared at me.
SHE: Mark, Dan is holding his hand out for you to shake.
HE: (finally extends hand)
ME: (looks in confusion from him to her, and back again)
HE: You’ll have to excuse me, Dan. I’m blind.
ME: (shaking his hand) You see farther than most…
In a second way, on this very same night, experiencing the kindness of others and the grace of our God, Dan was enlightened by a simple gesture of a tiki bar guitar player. Cindy, Dan’s dear friend back at home, was certainly on his mind.
On the way back to my hotel, I was drawn to a musician who was playing at a Tiki Bar. I thought that if I greased his palm he might consider playing a song for Cindy (with whom I was speaking on my cell phone). I did, and he said into the phone, “Cindy, this one’s for you.” Then he played on his guitar and sang “Souvenirs” by Jimmy Buffet, to Cindy’s great delight. When it was over, he took the phone from me.
HE: I hope you enjoyed that, Cindy! It was a pleasure to play for you. God bless you.
SHE: (clapping over the phone) Thank you!
I had never heard the song before, but the final verse stuck with me:
“Pieces, bits and pieces
Add up through the years,
I’ve collected a small fortune
What a day. What a night. WHAT A LIFE!
I bid you all a heartfelt good night.
Daniel Sean Mathews
Tampa Bay, Florida
January 16, In the Year of Our Lord 2017