TONY ELDER: Put your requests on hold: take a few moments to thank God

Recently, a road maintenance crew came through the stretch of state highway in front of our church. I have to say they did one of the most thorough jobs of clearing off the right of way that I've witnessed in the 19 years we've been in that location.

They didn't just mow a few feet on either side of the road, as other such workers have often done. These guys had the courage to tackle our despised patch of kudzu, actually making a significant dent in it, although I'm sure it will make a quick recovery, as that infamous plant is known to do.

This crew also cut down all the weeds along the bank above the road. Only three or four plants -- I guess you could actually call them small trees -- which were too big for their weed-eaters remained, and I quickly committed myself to going out and cutting those down while they were accessible.

However, before I could follow through on that plan, the next day I discovered the workers had returned and had removed even those objects from the landscape.

I was so impressed by the job that was done I decided to call the State Department of Transportation to compliment them on the work. I was pleasantly surprised to get a real human being on the other end of the line who, after a couple of attempts, got me in touch with the appropriate person.

Immediately, he wanted to know what county I was calling about. As he continued to ask for further information, it was obvious he was preparing to receive what he assumed was either a complaint or request.

I stopped him and told him I simply wanted to compliment the crew for doing such a great job on that stretch of road. The person I spoke with expressed his great surprise as this was not the type of call he was accustomed to receiving.

I must confess that in spite of my actions on this occasion, I'm often not as conscientious about passing along compliments and expressing gratitude.

Many of us could do a better job of saying thanks to people or commending them for what they've done. Think about how encouraging it is to us when someone takes the time to show their appreciation for us or our work.

What about when it comes to calling up the Lord on His heavenly hotline of prayer? Would He be shocked for us to talk to Him primarily for the reason of thanking Him for something He's done in our lives?

Is He more accustomed to hearing our complaints about something bad happening to us? Would He be surprised if we just lifted up our voices to praise Him rather than to ask for some divine favor?

I guess nothing really surprises God since He knows everything. I know the Bible says He wants us to bring our needs and concerns to Him. But it also says to let our requests be made known to God with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6).

I believe it pleases Him when we take time to acknowledge His greatness, love, and holiness. I think it puts a smile on His face when we remember to express our gratitude for previous blessings instead of just always seeking His present and future assistance.

Take a few moments today to glorify God for who He is and to thank Him for His goodness to you. And let's all try to be more mindful to compliment and thank other people, too.

Maybe I should start right now -- I really do appreciate all of you who just took the time to read these words and to take them to heart.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.