Every Friday in the early evening, an old man walked from his house down to the ocean carrying a bucket of shrimp. As the sun started its descent and the evening waves gently lapped the shore, he walked to the end of the pier and reached in his bucket of shrimp and began to feed the birds who were already there waiting for him. Slowly, intentionally, he distributed the contents of his bucket, as he did every Friday evening, with the sun slipping down over the horizon.
What was he doing there? He was saying thank you.
His name was Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. Years before, in October, 1942, President Roosevelt dispatched Captain Rickenbacker with a special message to General MacArthur who was planning American strategy in the Pacific theater of World War II. But the B-17 became lost, ran out of fuel, and went down. The crew of eight made it into two lifeboats and then began a harrowing, desperate fight to survive the sun, sharks, waves, and most of all, hunger.
When it seemed that the end had come and there was no hope, when they had prayed all they could pray, Captain Rickenbacker was asleep in the raft with his cap over his eyes. He felt something. A bird had lit on his head. He knew if he could catch it, they would survive. He did. And they ate it. They used its entrails for bait. They survived.
In a culture of overabundance, I hope we never lose the virtue of thankfulness. As the young mother responded to the question, "What caused you to come to believe in God?", she said, "I had to have somebody to thank!"
Eddie Rickenbacker said there was one question about his experience on the lifeboat that was never answered. What was that seagull doing there, hundreds of miles from land, anyway?
Thank you, God.
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas