Beyond Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving Week, and even in a world gone mad most people have the good sense to slow down and take inventory of all the blessings we enjoy. Like many Americans, the stain or terrorism will impact my celebration, if only in my thoughts. When I was my son’s age, I never once considered the possibility that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would be a target for extremists. Since 9/11, the thought has occurred to me every single year.

Yes, the world is folding in on its own fallenness.

Still, the wise words of a friend ring in my ears this week. When asked how he’s doing he always replies, “Better than I deserve.” I’m thankful, this year, because I’m doing much better than I could ever have earned.

My Family

I’ve said it before and I’ll likely say it again: any good I do in this life is by God’s grace and because Jim and Cathy are my parents. I won’t see them this week — our holiday visit will be right before Christmas — but I will definitely think of and miss them today.

My wife and kids, my moon and stars if ever the night is too dark to endure, nearly bring me to my knees in thanksgiving. We’ve spent the last several years serving the homeless on Thanksgiving Day. This year we’ll sit at the same table and watch the parade and football and, as my son coined the term regarding his own lazy day wardrobe, wear our “soft pants.”




One of my great blessings is that my family extends far beyond the conventional definition. I’ve got folks who may as well be family in at least three states, and maybe more, left in the wake of ministry life over the past fifteen years. I’m grateful for all of them, wherever they may be.

My Church

It has, in some ways, been a tumultuous year in the Benton household. I’ve felt lost at times. If Jesus is True North (and He is, for me), then the fine folks at Current – A Christian Church have been the compass, pointing the way. Our church family is not perfect, but they sure are good. This will be our fifth Thanksgiving among them, and I’m exceedingly humbled to call them brothers and sisters.

Our Non-Profit Organization

I am so thankful for The 25 Group. I have always felt called to ministry in the church, but if ever God has put a calling on my life it was starting this non-profit community, now nearly two years old. I’ve had a lot of crazy ideas in my life, but I’m persuaded this was God’s idea of which He made me a steward.

There are kids in the Dominican Republic who used to be hungry that aren’t any more and children in India who used to be thirsty who aren’t any more, all because generous people agreed that giving was better than keeping. I won’t bore you with all the details, but it’s been cool to watch this thing take off.


The things that matter most to me are the hardest for me to talk about. I’m insanely passionate about and loyal to my family and friends. There’s no one to whom I feel more indebted than the leaders and fellow members of our church family. I love our nonprofit as it goes about doing the work we set out to do. Still, I can muster a paragraph or two on those subjects.

I don’t know what to tell you about Jesus. I can’t muster much that will make sense, so I’ll just leave it at this:

From a young age, through my formative years, shining light in my dark spaces, and grabbing me by the scruff of my neck when necessary — Jesus has been there all along. I don’t get it.

Grateful isn’t just an understatement–it doesn’t even approach the full definition of how I know myself to be, how I understand God to be, and how I understand Him to feel about me regardless of how I know myself to be. It’s a mysterious truth I’ve been attempting to grasp since childhood, and I can’t wrap my mind around it.

Still, I’m grateful.

I don’t know how easy it is for you to tune out the frustration, fallenness, and fears of this world, but the only reason those things can grow dim for me is because Jesus shines so brightly.

I hope you and your family can tune out the noise of a world gone mad and reflect on all the things for which you have every reason to celebrate.

Happy Thanksgiving.