Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 20, 2015



Down on my knees giving thanks


        Trisha Yearwood is known for a song titled “Down on My Knees.” The quaint song is a message to her husband. She tells him if he starts taking his love from her, she’d be “down on my knees beggin’ you please” not to leave.

        Trisha looks like a lovely woman. She is in her fifties now. I hope her husband did not leave her. But I am sure there were many women who

identified with the feelings she expresses in this tender song.

        If Dean had left me I’m sure I would have gotten on my knees and begged her not to leave. Not with all those diapers to change and all the chores necessary to raise four growing boys. I would have been helpless without her.

        Getting down on our knees is something we did more than once to save our marriage. It is a humbling experience usually driven by a sense of desperation. I have been there. I have that T-shirt.

        That brings me to this idea: Christmas is a great time to get down and your knees and thank God for your blessings. While there is no need to beg God for anything, getting on your knees is a good way to let God know that you are humbly grateful for all your blessings.

        On Christmas Eve I will be on my knees at church receiving the bread and cup of the Holy Sacrament. While I am serving others in several communion services I will be thanking God for the folks who are receiving the sacrament from my hands. Many of them patiently listen to me preach on Sundays and I am an honored to serve Christ alongside them in our community.

Most preachers love the Christmas Eve communion service. We love to see families with children come to receive communion together. Small children enjoy communion even though they do not understand its full meaning.  

        I have some special Christmas Eve memories. I remember Charles and Jennifer Jones and their family in Opelika. They never missed communion and they always arrived at the same time – just as the service was ending.

        Their son Robert is an attorney now but when he was seven he pulled a good one on me. As he approached the altar he became conscious of the wad of bubblegum in his mouth. The resourceful little fellow did not panic. Without missing a beat, he discretely removed the gum from his mouth and with a sly smile handed it to me. Only the most observant souls saw the transaction occur. Ever since that night I have felt good about Robert. He has what it takes to handle the ups and downs of life and keep smiling.

Not everyone receiving the sacrament on Christmas Eve will be as carefree as little Robert was that night. Some will be teary-eyed, knowing that this may be the last Christmas they will have with someone they love dearly. None of us knows how many more Christmases we will share with our loved ones and friends. So it behooves us to remember that because life is short we should do our best to squeeze the last drop of joy possible out of every moment.       

        Life is not a cakewalk. We have to embrace it all – the good and the bad, the bitter and the sweet, the joy and the sorrow – and like Robert, walk on and keep smiling. We all struggle. We all suffer. We all hurt when families are torn apart and the end of suffering is nowhere in sight.  

        Still, we can get on our knees and give thanks! Despite our pain we have much for which to be thankful. Nothing is gained by cursing God and allowing cynicism to ruin our lives. Bitterness is a dead-end street. Its end is always gnashing of teeth and lonely darkness. As long as there is one sip of joy left in the cup we must not let bitterness rob us of its sweetness.

On aging knees then, before Santa shows up, I will find a place to get on my knees and thank God for all my blessings, especially my wife and my family. At my age it is not easy to get up from being down on my knees but I believe it is the best position in which to pray. It is a way of acknowledging the sovereignty of God especially when there are sorrows tearing your heart out. When bad things happen, it helps to remember that God is still God and he is still able to bring good out of bad.

Christmas may be the best time to thank the Father for sending his Son. To praise him for the reconciliation that his grace provides and to ask him to give sweet reconciliation to those who still have not found it.

        Are their tears on the cheeks of genuine thanksgiving? Of course. Tears come quickly when we recall God’s mercy and realize we did not deserve it. Tears gush freely whenever we recall times when things did not go as we had hoped but somehow we found the strength to go on. Broken things were picked up and unseen hands helped us put life back together.

        As long as old knees will bend, and stubborn hearts are willing to become submissive, there will be reasons to bow down and offer thanks to God. Christmas might mean more this year if you choose to get down on your knees and give thanks. Merry Christmas. + + +