Being Thankful for Deliverance
About the Guest
Sometimes it takes a story to jar us to reality. Today Barbara Rainey encourages parents to teach their children gratitude by giving them positive role models to learn from. Besides being models themselves, parents can read inspiring stories, like the stories she tells today about Harriet Tubman and David Livingstone.
Sometimes it takes a story to jar us to reality.
Being Thankful for Deliverance
Barbara: Everybody can be standing around the island in the kitchen, or the counter, or the table making lunches, and somebody can be reading the story.
Bob: Barbara Rainey says: If you want to capture both the mind, and the heart of your child, and teach them it helps to use stories.
Barbara: You don’t have to sit down sort of in a churchy sort of way, and everybody’s being quiet with their hands folded in their laps. I mean really who can do that with the pace that we live at? But, we can read a story that kids can pay attention to while they’re eating their breakfast or packing their lunch.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, November 5. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine. We will share a story or two with you today: Stories you can share with your children that may inspire a little gratitude from them.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today thanks for joining us. I’m just wondering if we have any listeners who have said, if they’re going to talk about gratitude again, I’m changing to another radio station.
I don’t want to hear them badgering at me about gratitude again!
Dennis: You know sometimes it takes a story from the outside to kind of jar us back to reality that for many of us we really don’t have problems. We have some gnats in our lives, but compared to what the rest of the world is facing today, and you know I’m thinking of Hebrews chapter 11 which talks about a group of people who walked, and lived by faith. It says they lived in caves, they lived in animal skins, they were sawn in two, they were destitute, ill treated, afflicted for the Gospel, and yet they were great.
They leave for us an example, Bob, so that when were griping, and complaining because someone’s five minutes late, or our spouse didn’t do what he or she said they would do on time, or didn’t do it according to what we expected. I think God uses stories like this to bring us back and think: You know what – you need to give thanks in all things.
Bob: Part of the reason we’re talking about this subject of gratitude this week is because Thanksgiving’s right around the corner, but part of the reason is because this is a subject that your wife feels strongly about. She’s back with us again today – Barbara welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Barbara: Thank you Bob.
Bob: When we get to this subject of gratitude, I was thinking about how it is we cultivate this habit in the hearts of our children. But ultimately we want to go deeper than just their behavior. Gratitude either comes from the heart, or it’s not there at all isn’t it?
Barbara: Yes, and that’s what we want to do as parents. I think all of us want to raise children who are grateful, and who are thankful. I mean, we’re not trying to raise kids that are gripy – nobody wants gripy kids! But, I think sometimes we underestimate the task of training them in gratitude. We think that a couple of simple instructions will do the trick, but teaching the child to be grateful is an ongoing process from the beginning to the end of your parenting years. I think we need sometimes as parents resources to help us continue to press on in that task of training our children to be grateful.
Bob: There’s a Gospel issue here: It is the predisposition of our own heart toward sin, and the need that we have for God to do a work in our hearts to make us grateful first for what He’s done for us, and then for the blessings that we enjoy.
Dennis: It’s why children need parents! Barbara mentioned it – they need to be trained: They’re not going to learn this attitude of gratitude on their own. Their hearts have to be trained repeatedly; how to give thanks to their Mom for doing the laundry, to say thanks Mom for the dinner, or as you mentioned on an earlier broadcast Bob how to say thanks to Dad for paying for going out to eat. I think teenagers need to learn how to be grateful for vehicles, for gasoline, for insurance, for tires, for all.
Barbara: They need to be grateful even that they can go to school! You know, kids gripe so much about – I’ve got to go to school, and I don’t like this teacher, and I don’t like that class. But, there are children all over the world that don’t even get to go to school.
Dennis: That’s one of the reasons why we recommend that young people sometime between the age of 10 and 16 go on a short term mission project to get exposed to a third world culture. You don’t even have to leave America to do that by the way!
Bob: Wait – you’d send a 10 year old to a third world culture?
Barbara: It would depend on which one, but yes with a parent accompanying him I might. It would depend – you’d have to check it out.
Dennis: I took three of our children on an overseas trip, and it was a third world country – it’s tough! Some of the things they were asked to eat were pretty interesting, but you know they got back to America, and I don’t think they ever looked at in quite the same way. We’re talking about here how to train your child to be grateful.
Barbara: I think that this is especially important for American parents. Because, I think complaining, and griping is epidemic in America, and it’s because we are a prosperous nation. I think our prosperity feeds our selfishness because we’re so used to having thousands of choices in the grocery store, and hundreds of choices of things to eat. So, we’re so used to being served, and having lots of options that we become critical instead of grateful. So, I think it’s particularly important for American families to address the issue of gratitude even more than perhaps families in some other country. I think it’s a big, big, issue in our families with our kids.
Bob: The devotional book that you’ve put together which is called Growing Together in Gratitude is designed for parents to really read stories about gratefulness to their children. Why did you use the story approach instead of taking kids through a Bible study on gratitude or another way you might have approached it?
Barbara: Well, the reason for stories is I think they’re much more engaging for all ages. You know everybody can be standing around the island in the kitchen, or the counter, or the table making lunches, and somebody can be reading the story. You don’t have to sit down sort of in a churchy sort of way, and everybody’s being quiet with their hands folded in their laps. I mean really who can do that with the pace that we live at in our country?
But, we can read a story that the kids can pay attention to while they’re eating their breakfast or packing their lunch. They can pay attention to it better than they could a Bible study. A Bible study means that you need to often times sit down, and you have to have a pencil – it’s just more task oriented.
The other idea for stories is that they have a much broader appeal in ages. You can read a story that a six or seven year old could pay attention to, but would also be interesting for the adults in the family. So, stories have a broader reach as far as making an impact on a person’s life.
Bob: As you looked for stories for this book some of them were stories you’d known for years. Others were stories you found as you were putting this devotional guide together. The story of Harriet Tubman – was that one that you knew about before you sat down to write the book?
Barbara: Yes, it was. We read a number of different books about Harriet Tubman when my kids were young. Some of them in the years we did some home schooling, but they read about Harriet Tubman in school too so it was a story they were familiar with. It’s a great story because she risked her life to rescue slaves during the Civil War era. The slaves were always grateful, and expressed gratitude to her and to God for their deliverance. It’s just a great story of being thankful when God provides deliverance.
Bob: The theme of that particular story is: Being thankful in deliverance. You cite Psalm 50 verse 15: “Call on me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor me.” Let me just read a part of this story for our listeners.
You write: It was dark, and it was time to move again. The woman leading the passengers encouraged them to move quietly and quickly even though they were exhausted, and hungry. After many hours of walking in the darkness Harriet Tubman tiptoed silently to the farmhouse door, and knocked. When the door cracked open the farmer asked in a frightened voice, “Who is it?” When Harriet gave them the password a friend with friends the man inside told them to go away. He hurriedly explained that slave catchers had searched the house the day before – he couldn’t take the risk.
So, stumbling back into the deep darkness of the woods the runaway slaves crawled under bushes, and piles of leaves to hide as dawn began to lighten the sky. As they fell asleep their deliverer was praying intently to her heavenly friend asking Him to lead them through the ever-present danger to safety. Harriet never slept, but kept watch through the day, and prayed without ceasing.
As night fell once again, the group prepared to move, they heard a voice of someone approaching. In fear everyone retreated back to their hiding places, but as the voice came nearer Harriet heard the words “My wagon stands in the barnyard across the way; the horse is in the stable; the harness hangs on a nail.” The man never stopped but continued walking, and repeating these words until he was gone.
When the night sky was completely dark Harriet crept out of the woods, and found the barn. Waiting there were all the things the man had mentioned including blankets, and baskets of food. God provided for their needs, and for their deliverance. As the runaways were climbing into the wagon they proclaimed Praise God! Thank you Jesus, thank you! Thank you over, and over again. They knew without question that God is the one who saves, and delivers. Giving thanks was their natural response.
Dennis: You know as you listen to that story, and you think about times in your life when you’ve been in a pickle, and you needed God to rescue you, and then He did, and how quickly, and how soon we can forget. It’s just good to go back, and revisit a story from time to time of how God answers our prayers, and delivers us, and then to express gratitude. You know that passage Psalm 50 verse 15 is worth rereading again. It says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I shall rescue you,” and then there’s the result: “And you will honor me.”
We were put here to honor God; that’s what it means to glorify Him. We were to make Him known, and tell about what He’s done on our behalf, and I think our children need to learn this lesson that many times we’re walking by God’s provisions, and we take them for granted, and we don’t call to mind, and celebrate with other people, and say, “Can I share with you what God did”?
I mean back earlier this year I sent a message out on face book – posted it on my wall on face book – that Rebecca our daughter who had lost two children in less than a year was pregnant again, and that she was pregnant with twins.
Now, I have to tell you as I came to the studio today Bob – our neighbor’s had not yet heard the story of Rebecca being pregnant, and I don’t know if our neighbors know Jesus Christ or not – they don’t go to church. They’re good people but I stopped, and told them, and one of my neighbors said, “Well, let’s pray that she goes full term,” and the other one just broke into this huge grin. That’s fantastic news.
Well you know in a way, it’s God’s deliverance for our daughter that she’s pregnant with not one, but two, and we get to tell that story of God’s deliverance to other people. He is a good God! He’s a good God when children don’t live, and He’s a good God when He blesses the womb.
Bob: Yes, even as you’re recounting that, I was thinking about the fact that as soon as you tell the Harriet Tubman story on day six of your seven day devotional, you follow it up with the story of David Livingstone. And you ask the question: Well, what happens when you don’t get rescued, and how do you give thanks in the midst of that? You’ve been in some valleys as a family over the last couple of years where you’ve had to by faith give thanks when the circumstances don’t look like things you’d want to be grateful for.
Barbara: Yes, and that’s the balance in learning to give thanks in all things, because it isn’t just giving thanks when things are good. Yes, the slaves that Harriet rescued were grateful because she was good to them, and God was good to them, and He delivered them. But, there are lots of times in life when you don’t see deliverance like you would like to see, or when things don’t go the way you would like for them to go.
So, as believers God calls us to give thanks in all things. So, I tried to have a real balance of stories to show all sides of it because we are supposed to give thanks in all things – the good, and the bad when God delivers, and when God doesn’t deliver.
Dennis: What takes more faith? Does it take more faith to give thanks after God rescues, and He delivers you? Or does it take more faith to give thanks when you haven’t seen the answer to your prayer? Because, the scriptures command us to give thanks in all things! It doesn’t say give thanks when your prayers are answered: When you see the response of God to what you’re facing. I think the story you tell about David Livingstone is a great story that our listeners ought to hear.
Barbara: David Livingstone was a missionary to Africa, and he was working with some of the tribal members that he had gotten to know, and he was trying to share Christ with them. One day a message came to him that this particular tribe – there was a pride of lions that was acting very strangely, and they were coming way too close to the village, and the lions were attacking the cattle in broad daylight. They were just doing things that the tribal members thought were very unusual.
Bob: Yes, they called them devil lions!
Barbara: They did. Isn’t that interesting? So they called David Livingstone to come help. They sent a runner who came, and got him, and he and one of his partners came back to the tribe with their guns. You know this is the kind of situation where we would expect God to really show up in great power, and stop the lion, or do something really dramatic so that these villagers would say, “Wow, there is a God.”
But, that’s not what happened – he picked up his gun to shoot one of these lions who was about to attack, and he shot him but he didn’t shoot him fatally. Instead he just made the lion angry, and the lion came after him, and the lion chomped down on David Livingstone’s shoulder, and shook him around with his mouth.
Dennis: He crushed some of his bones.
Barbara: Yes, and threw him to the ground. Then his partner who’d come with him tried to shoot him, and he missed, and so the lion attacked his partner – got him by the leg.
Dennis: I have to read what you wrote down in here! It said it shook the missionary like a rag doll – Livingstone later recalled thinking what part of me will he eat first?
That’s not a good place to be in!
Barbara: No that’s not the kind of picture we would envision for this! You know here’s a missionary out doing something for God – surely God would rescue him, and stop the lion but He didn’t, and eventually between the two of them they were able to kill the lion. But, he required medical attention, and he had to be hauled off, and leave his mission station, and his work.
But, what was interesting about his response was that he wrote a letter to his father back in Scotland, and told him about the attack of the lions, and in his letter he gave thanks to God for protecting him, and that he didn’t die. So, sometimes God doesn’t deliver like we would like for Him to, and yet scripture commands us to give thanks in all things.
Dennis: You know I’ve lived now six decades. I was so naïve as a new follower of Jesus Christ, and Bob, I know you think the same way. When we start our journey we have all these preconceptions of what God’s going to do. It’s almost like because we’re good for God or we’ve done something good for God therefore He’s going to always do things good for us. That isn’t so! It’s not that God’s trying to punish us. It’s not that God is trying to be cruel to us but He is up to something so much bigger than me, and my little ego, and what I’m up to. Sometimes I think like a grape: He has to crush us in order to produce the wine!
Bob: We may never know what He’s up to - not just in our lives but in His plan. I think of Ron Dunn the pastor who was once approached by a new Christian who said, “Pastor Dunn I’m so glad I’m a Christian now – I know this will be the end of my troubles.” Pastor Dunn said, “Yes, it’s going to be the front end.”
I was sitting down last night with a group of guys, and one of the guys just said, “You know I want to thank the Lord.” He said, “My wife, and I were driving down this past weekend to my hunting club” – he said, “On the back trailer I had the four wheeler,” and he said, “As I’m driving 65 miles an hour down the highway all of a sudden it’s like I can’t control the car, and I don’t know what’s happened.”
He said, “Well, what I found out later was that one of the tires on the trailer holding that four wheeler had blown out, and it started to fishtail, and it was taking the car with it because it was a pretty heavy trailer, and the guy driving behind me started to slow down because he didn’t know if I was going to spin out of control or what. The eighteen wheeler that was next to me slowed down because it looked like I was about to take somebody else out.”
He said, “My wife was in the seat, and I was telling her hang on!” She said to me later, “You didn’t have to tell me to hang on I knew to do that.”
He said, “But you know we were fine, we got the tire replaced – it all worked out.” A skeptic would look at that and say, “Well, God could have prevented that blow out in the first place.” So giving thanks for God that you were safe in the midst of a calamity – why didn’t you just ask God well, why did you cause the tire to blow out in the first place? The answer is, and I remember somebody saying this: I’m not going to ask why of God on some of these things until I can ask Him face to face.
We don’t need to know – we don’t know what God’s purpose and God’s plan in some of these things are. The question is will we in the midst of them say you’re a good God, and whatever you do is good, and I’ll be grateful – I’m going to have a heart of gratitude for your goodness.
Dennis: The reality is: Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people! I don’t know why God does what He does, but the older I get the more I’m convinced He is there, He is in charge. He is working it out. It may not make sense to me, but in the midst of it I know this from the Bible – it’s real clear
He commands us: Give thanks in all things for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. So, you may not be able to sort it all out, but when you’re in the mouth of a lion, and you’re wondering what part of you is going to get eaten first I think you have to cry out to God and say, “God deliver me.”
But, you know what if You don’t I will be found being grateful to you with my last breath. Bob, I’ve said many times, and Barbara and I have laughed about this, and in fact you and I have even chatted about it: I don’t want to die a gripy, complaining, cantankerous old man. I just don’t want to be…
Bob: Crotchety! That’s right.
Dennis: Crotchety is the word I was trying to pull out. Crotchety – there’s a lot of crotchety, elderly people. We don’t need anymore of them. We need some people who’ve got a purpose! Right now I have a picture of a woman who is approaching 90 – or did she just celebrate her 90th birthday? Kitty Longstreth – this woman is a prayer warrior – she’s 90, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her when she didn’t have a smile on her face. She is not a bitter old lady; she’s a woman who prays, who is expectant of God to be at work in her life, and if I’m going to live to be 90, that’s the way I want to go out.
Bob: Well, and to get there you have to have a heart of gratitude. You have to have a heart of gratefulness for the goodness of God even when the tent starts to flap.
Dennis: The tent gets some holes in it as it gets a little older!
Bob: If you’re going to cultivate a heart of gratitude these are themes you have to revisit from time to time in your own life, and as you raise your kids. That’s the design of the devotional that Barbara’s written called Growing Together in Gratitude, and we want all of the families listening to FamilyLife Today to use this tool this year during the month of November as you lead up to Thanksgiving. In fact, if you’d like to get a copy of the devotional you can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY and request it.
All we’re asking is that you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount. If you make your donation on-line at FamilyLifeToday.com just type the word gratitude in the key code box on the donation form.
If you call 1-800-FLTODAY, and make your donation over the phone just ask for the gratitude devotional, and we’ll send it out to you. In fact this is so new that we haven’t had a chance to get it out to Christian bookstores, or to get it to Amazon, or anyplace else.
We’ll do that next year in time for Thanksgiving, but this year we’re just asking you to contact us, make a donation – again of any amount, and request a copy of this devotional. Then, use it with your family this year, and then get in touch with us, and let us know what kind of response you get from your kids. We’d love to hear back from you.
Again the web site FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FLTODAY, and we’ll make arrangements to get the gratitude devotional sent to you. If you don’t already have a copy of Barbara’s book about Thanksgiving it’s called Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember. It tells the story of the first Thanksgiving: It’s a great resource to share with the family either on Thanksgiving Day, or in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Information about that book is available at FamilyLifeToday.com as well, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY.
We have other resources designed to help make the Thanksgiving holiday a more meaningful celebration for you. Go to our website FamilyLifeToday.com or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, and we can let you know what resources are available.
Now tomorrow we’re going to keep the theme going – we’re going to continue to talk about Thanksgiving, and gratitude, and having a heart that is grateful to God for the blessings we enjoy. I hope you can be back with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock Arkansas. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
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