Every few years we experience an ice storm or tropical storm here in central Arkansas that knocks down trees and leaves us without electric power for a few days. When you lose electricity, you quickly realize how much you normally take it for granted.

All your routines are disrupted when the power is out.  Walking through your home feels like driving at night in a strange city … If it’s summer, you lie in bed at night perspiring because the overhead fan isn’t working … If it’s winter, you lie in bed under mounds of blankets feeling the temperature drop … You move chairs or couches closer to a window so that you can read by daylight … You feel strangely disconnected without the ability to turn on a computer and check the internet … Bathrooms turn as dark as a cave when you close the door … You find yourself constantly wishing and praying for that magical moment when the lights suddenly come on again.

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about taking things for granted.  I hardly think about stoplights, for example.  Think about how dangerous it would be to drive if those didn’t exist.  How about window screens that keep bugs out of the house?  Fresh bananas available year-round at the store?  Telephones and televisions?

I know I take computers for granted when I fall into a snit because my laptop takes “too long” to boot up. I used to take low gas prices for granted, but no more … those days are a distant memory.

Of course, there are many things I’ve always appreciated.  For example:

  • Snow.
  • A painting by Claude Monet.
  • A mystery novel by Dick Francis.
  • A happy and loyal dog greeting me at the door each night.
  • A crisp day in the fall.
  • A sunny day at the beach.
  • A warm afternoon at a golf course.
  • A perfectly-cooked filet mignon steak.
  • Chocolate chip cookies, fresh out of the oven.

I wish I could put my wife on this list of things I’ve always appreciated, but I admit I’ve taken for her granted at times. I can go days without even noticing all she does to build our relationship and keep our home functioning. When was the last time I thanked her just for doing the laundry, for folding all those clothes, for putting up with my moods?

As I think of Merry today, I keep focusing on the word “grace.” I don’t know if I’ve ever told her this, but God consistently uses her to show His grace to me and to others.

The fourth chapter of Ephesians tells us, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ forgave you” (v. 29, 32). That’s my wife. She’s not perfect, but usually the words that come from her mouth are wholesome and full of grace. They remind me that I am loved unconditionally—by God and by her—despite my flaws and my sin. Her words assure me that she is fully committed to me, that she will never leave me.

And those are things I should never take for granted.

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