Andrew Schroer writes a faith column for the Victoria Advocate.

In 1903, a rancher named Jonathan Edwards Pierce gave the right-of-way to the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway through his ranch in Matagorda County. Pierce also dedicated a portion of his land for a town and railway station. A post office was built that same year. A library was attached to the railway station. In 1905, the Brownsville, St. Louis and Mexico Railway also built through the burgeoning town. A hotel and newspaper soon followed.

The new town, however, needed a name. So thankful was Pierce for this new port for his cattle, he wanted to call the town: “Thank God.” Postal officials, however, found the name unsuitable. “Blessing” was then suggested and the postal officials gave theirs.

Blessing, Texas and its post office still stand today.

Webster tells us that to bless means “to confer prosperity or happiness upon” someone. As Americans, especially around Thanksgiving, we like to talk about how blessed we are. But to be blessed means someone or something has given you that prosperity or happiness. A blessing is a gift. A blessing isn’t earned. You can’t bless yourself.

I say that because, though we as Americans love to talk about being blessed and how thankful we are, sometimes we forget where those blessings come from. You can’t be thankful without having someone to thank.

Look at your home, your clothes, your truck, your family, your friends, your church. We like to think, “I did this. I worked hard. I pulled myself up by my bootstraps.”

But who gave you your body and mind? Who allowed you to live in this wonderful country and in the great state of Texas? Who provided you with opportunities to learn and work?

The truth is, if it were left up to us, we would have ruined it all long ago. You aren’t the reason you have what you have. You are blessed. Everything we have and everything we are is a gift of God’s grace. God has given us what we don’t deserve.

The only thing we deserve – the only thing we’ve earned – is hell. For all of our dirty secrets and ugly thoughts, for the failures of our youth and the stubbornness of our old age, for all of our whining and complaining and selfishness, we deserve God’s anger and punishment. But because of Jesus, God blesses us with what we don’t deserve. He freely forgives and gives us heaven.

God blesses us with family and friends, homes and cars, four wheelers and fishing poles, air conditioning and iPhones. It all comes from him. Everything we have and everything we are is because of his love, which we don’t deserve. They are all blessings.

So Thank God, Texas.

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Pastor Andrew Schroer has been a pastor for nearly 20 years and is currently serving at Redeemer Lutheran Church with campuses in Edna and Victoria, Texas. Read more of his devotional writing and contact him at 364DaysofThanksgiving.com.

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