Monday, November 21, 2011
Is Thankfulness for Family and Friends Enough?
Many times at the Thanksgiving dinner table, families have a tradition of going around the table and sharing the things they are thankful for (at least we do in my family). There is never a shortage of hearing individuals' thankfulness for "family" and "friends", or their "home" or "job". While these things are significant and very worthwhile, the repetitiveness with which we hear these four items named cause me to wonder if we are failing to reach deeper than the obvious to come up with things that we are thankful for.
On Facebook a couple of weeks ago, someone posted this: What if you woke up today with ONLY the things you thanked God for yesterday? To me, this is a profound statment, and it got me to thinking about what it is that I am truly thankful for in light of Thanksgiving coming around so quickly.
Am I thankful for my family and friends? Of course I am. I couldn't have gotten through many things in this life without them. I'm extremely thankful to have a home to live in, and without a job, my husband would seriously drive me crazy (Ever heard the story about the man who drove his wife crazy when he retired because he didn't have anything to do but be home with her?), not to mention how would we pay for our home without one?
Niggling around in the back of my mind is how, while much of the world will be starving, we Americans will be shoveling food in and watching football; counting the minutes to black Friday and the excessive consumption/shopping that will ensue for the next month. Also tickling around in the back of mind are thoughts about why aren't we deeper, more in tune with what's really important and where's God in all this excess?
Please hear my heart. I'm extremely thankful because I know that God has been especially kind to me, but I guess I'm just a little tired of the superficiality of life and I want to get real when thinking about things to be thankful for.
It seems selfish not to be thankful for all the beauty that we live in and around? And how come we hear so little about how God loved us so much that He came to us in human form to provide a way for us to be reconciled to Him? Are you thankful you have a winter coat or a hat and gloves and perhaps a raincoat? Maybe you're thankful for your bike or your scooter or your car or that you have a warm, comfy bed to sleep in or that you get three meals (and more) a day.
Are we thankful for all that? Of course we are. I know we are. We have SO MUCH to be thankful for that it seems trite and selfish to look no further than my family and friends or a home or a job! I'm feeling sort of like it seems to trivialize being thankful by eating a huge meal, stuffing yourself to the point where you can't or don't want to move and then doing nothing but watching football (or whatever) ad nauseum all day long?
Maybe I'm not talking to the public at large. Maybe I'm really just talking to myself here. Maybe it's The Lord talking to me! But thankfulness seems to be so much bigger than all that. True thankfulness seems to require me doing more than that. Maybe what would be a real show of thankfulness would be to have a smaller meal, to eat less, to give more so that someone who doesn't have a meal today will have one. All I know is that God is not allowing me to have my normal Thanksgiving dinner this year. I keep hearing His voice in my ear telling me that less is more and do something different this year. Spend some of yourself, Kim, to show me how thankful you are, ...and it's not about money; no, you give plenty of money. Sometimes it's just not about money.
So I say to The Lord. Okay, so I give enough money. You know the things I do to honor you, Lord. (And He does know and now that I'm into writing this, I know that God is speaking to me...most likely not to you.) You know I've helped the sick, I've taught classes, I serve in my church, I minister as a watchman, I spend hours each days reading, studying and talking to you. What is it that you want from me to show my thankfulness?
You know what the Lord says to me? Pick up the phone and call that person whom you would never think about calling (as a matter of fact, that person you would never want to call) and invite them to dinner; make them the guest of honor. Make it a small meal, Kim, with the focus on quality; not quantity. Turn off the football game and put on something that honors Me (music or a movie; it won't matter) but make the focus on Me. Tell your guests a story about how I've provided for you this year or in the past and invite them to do the same. Whatever you spend on your meal, Kim, give that amount to a family who will have no dinner.
There's more; so much more that God is saying to me...things like getting before Him on my face in prayer and praise, thanking Him for all He provides me with materially, for every minute of every day that I can operate normally in a body that doesn't cooperate because of disease, sharing all that He gives me more sacrificially in these days when so many do not have the basic needs of life, and coming out of and not being a part of the way of life today in America; the life of excess.
It can be done. We can celebrate Thanksgiving without shoving a fist in the face of so many that have so little or nothing to eat. All that really matters is that our hearts are in the right place, that we have something good to eat, that we have our loved ones around us to share in the joy, that we give all the praise, honor and glory to God for all that we have and hold dear and that we share something more of ourselves than the obvious.
I pray that your day of Thanksgiving will be one filled with the knowledge of Jesus Christ and what He has done for you and a day spent in love, rejoicing and appreciation of all you have with your family and friends.
Hear these words from the hymn, Come, Ye Thankful People, Come...
1 Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God's own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home.
2. All the world is God's own field,
fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown
are to joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear,
then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
wholesome grain and pure may be.
3. For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day
all offenses purge away,
giving angels charge at last
in the fire the tares to cast;
but the fruitful ears to store
in the garner evermore.
4. Even so, Lord, quickly come,
bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in,
free from sorrow, free from sin,
there, forever purified,
in thy presence to abide;
come, with all thine angels, come,
raise the glorious harvest home.