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Earl was a farmer. When I was in high school Earl and I went to the same church. He was in his sixties and I was close to sixteen. One day I was outside on the church steps following worship and Earl found me to shake my hand—something he did every Sunday. I still remember the feel of my hand in that giant rough paw of his. He was a big strong man, hardened and muscled by years on the family farm. With all his worn features his demeanor was gentle and his smile infectious.

It was autumn and I asked him about the harvest that year. “Not sure yet,” he replied, “guess we’ll see when it’s all in the barn.”

Then I asked him if he was heading out to the fields that afternoon to work. His answer was pure Earl. “Glenn, Sunday is for prayer and thanks. I have never labored on the Lord’s day. A lot of fellows have started doing that, but I’m not having it.”

“But, Earl,” I asked, “don’t you want to get it all in as soon as you can. You farmers are always worried about what could happen if the rain or snow comes.”

“Glenn,” he said, looking me straight in the eye, “I have never failed to have a crop. Some better. Some worse. But every year I look in my bank account and there is a little more than the year before. For that I am thankful. That is why I am on these steps with you today.”

I have known all kinds of farmers through the years, and they work in different ways. It is certainly big business these days and I understand how things change. However, I think about Earl sometimes when the harvest comes home, and when the Thanksgiving holiday is at hand. There is a time to work and a time to be thankful. In my life I could squeeze a little more effort into the profit margin, and penny-pinch a little more out of my gratitude; but year over year life has been blessed. God’s grace is expanding my spiritual balance sheet.  

Take time for your Thanksgiving. Count your blessings. Open your heart to the abundance of God’s presence and grace.

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Glenn Howell
Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana