We are living in trying times. People are losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing their livelihood, losing their cars, losing on their investments, losing their hope, and some are even losing their minds. Few things are more heartbreaking than working hard to build a dream, and then losing it all through no fault of your own.
But as I turn on the television and watch the devastation in Japan caused by a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, I see people who have no jobs, no homes, no cars, no money - and if they do have a few coins there is nothing left to buy. Each survivor shares a similar story:
** I held on to my wife's hand as long as I could, but she was washed away...
** I was washed away but I hung on to a floating tree that came my way. I was circling around some houses. My daughter was washed away; I still don't know where she is...
** I believe my mother is buried in the rubble of the house. I held my father above water, but the force of the tsunami was too strong. I couldn't hold on to him...
** Frightening beyond belief. I have no words. My mother and uncle are missing. They were both home...
** I thought Japan would disappear under water...
** My wife, my children, my four grandchildren -- they are all gone...
The last quote is one I shall never forget. Having lost his entire family, the man was serving as a volunteer firefighter. If anyone deserved to sit at home with head in hand having a good ol' pity party, he'd be the one. But that is not what he chose to do. In the midst of a personal loss, the man was out trying to help somebody else.
Japan has the world's third largest economy; therefore, their day-to-day lives are much like our own. They live in nice homes, drive nice cars, have nice jobs. But in this moment of massive loss, I have yet to see a survivor search for their home, or their car, or their ATM card. The point I'm trying to make is this: all the stuff that matters so much to us -- you know, stuff like nice jobs and nice homes and nice cars really have no value when compared to the things which can't be replaced -- you know, things like family and friends.
For as far back as I can remember, seismologists have warned that The Big One will hit the west coast on any given day. It is a blessing to wake up on solid ground, even if it's a place we don't want to be. As a society, we have desired and acquired so much stuff until we have forgotten to be thankful for the many irreplaceable things we possess. I remember when gratitude was a way of life. And the funny part is we didn't have much. Maybe it was our upbringing because the old folks sho' used to say, "It don't cost nothing to say 'thank ya.'"
We used to have "testimony service" in the old-school pentecostal church. All my childhood years I was forced to listen to the old folks saying the same ol' tired thing week in and week out. And for some reason they would get "happy" during their boring testimony. But the older I get, the more sense I find in their repetitive words. Now that I think about it, when you got in an old-school prayer line, it was for one of two things: (1) to get saved, and/or (2) to get filled with the holy ghost. That was it! There was no such thing as praying for a hosue or a car or a husband or to be delivered from depression. They were always thankful and welcomed the opportunity to rejoice and be appreciative. So as I sit safe and sound in a home that is still standing, full of every kind of techy device available, and closets full of clothes, and shelves full of food, and a full tank of gas in my car, I invite you to journey back five decades with me to a little church in Los Angeles called Greater Circle Mission on the corner of 107th and Normandie. Every Sunday night, every Wednesday night and every Friday night the church folks would stand up one behind the other and say:
"Giving honor to God, and to the pastor, and to all of the saints of the Most High God, I wanna thank and praise God for His goodness toward me. I could have been dead, sleeping in my grave, but the Lord saw fit to keep me in the land of the living with the use and activity of my limbs, and a portion of good health and strength. I wanna thank and praise God that I am yet saved and sanctified and filled with his precious holy ghost. I wanna thank and praise God for keeping me in my right mind. I wanna thank and praise God for keeping me safe from all hurt, harm and danger, and for building a fence of protection around my loved ones. I wanna thank and praise God because He's brought me from a mighty long way. I wanna thank and praise God for giving me a desire to go all the way to see what the end is gonna be. I wanna thank and praise God for you and you and you. Pray my strength in the Lord."
Hallelujah, for real! That old-timey testimony has me all stirred up to where I'm getting "happy" too! In fact, I feel my own testimony coming on: "Giving honor to God, and to all of the readers of Be All You Can Be ~ the Newsletter, I wanna thank and praise God for finally learning that things can change in a moment. So in spite of my own personal drama going on at this moment, I just wanna thank and praise God!"
Be all you can be!
Yolanda Wright Bozant