"He looks like a little grasshopper out there!"
Walter Cobb in his high pitch voice yelled that out as I strode out to the outfield at Mang Field in Branson. It was the summer of 1973. I was nine years old, playing with my brother's 12-year-old team. They were short a player and I got called out of the stands to play. My knees shook and my heart pounded firmly in my chest. I kept wiping my sweaty palms on my blue jeans.
No baseball uniform for me.
Nothing was hit to me the first two innings to my relief. But in the third inning, a big burly fellow hit a deep drive between myself and the right fielder. I ran and ran and decided to stick my glove in the general direction the ball was streaking.
I heard a thud in my glove. I looked, and there was the baseball!
Running back in to back slaps and cheers from the crowd, I remember being shocked and overjoyed...and a little embarrassed with the attention.
After the game, Walter Cobb came up to me.
"Way to catch that ball little Stoney!" he yelled as he patted my back.
"Ahh...it wasn't that great a catch," I muttered shyly.
My Dad immediately after Walter walked away got in my face.
"When someone compliments you thank them!" he snapped.
I've never forgotten that stern statement from my Dad.
To be grateful is to acknowledge kind words, abundant blessings, life itself.
I try to walk each morning and talk out loud to God. I always start by thanking Him for the day I'm in. I even say the date out loud. Such as today. "Thank you, Father, for another day...another gift of life this day, February 23, 2021."
To be grateful is at times easy, and at other times, a choice over grumbling or complaining. At this moment my heart so wants to complain. One of my Young Life area's fundraiser went very poorly financially last night, and my Dad had to go to the ER from the rehab center he's been in. He has a staff infection in his heel.
Circumstances can quickly draw our heart away from gratitude to grumbling--from blessing to bitterness. I try to remember, as Will Wyatt said, "Instead of focusing on circumstances, focus on the Master of circumstances."
I remember when my parents sold strawberries, my Dad always insisted on filling each quart he sold to overflow. When he sold tomatoes, he would always throw in a couple of extra tomatoes or a bag of green beans. He was all about giving above and beyond to his customers.
Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that you may have life, and have it in abundance."
Gratitude above all else is acknowledging Jesus seeks daily to fill our lives to the full, and overflow. He's about giving us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfullness, gentleness and self-control regardless of life's circumstances, if we would but be grateful for the gift of each day.
In the midst of this broken world, where the cracks seem to be getting wider, I encourage each of you friends to choose gratitude today, and fill it to the top.
Be better, not bitter.