As you know, our Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner. One week from this Thursday. I’ve noticed that shiny advertisements are urging us to make our lists and check them twice. Not for Santa, but for us to be certain every little detail for “the meal” is in place. And at a good price in their store. There are table settings to admire or wish for, the pictures of families gathered in Norman Rockwall fashion with the just-right turkey gracing the lovely serving platter, and presented to all the cheerful family gathered ‘round Grandma’s bountiful table. This is Thanksgiving Day, according to what we are being told by what we are being shown.
But wait! Is this what we are to hope for, get our hearts set on and dream about as Thanksgiving Day approaches? Or do these suggestions that we can have it all here and now just set us up for disappointment—with others, with ourselves and perhaps with God? Some will have an empty seat at their table and some will have an empty place in their heart for one who is far away either emotionally or spatially. Or in that “far country,” away from the Father.
Others will miss the way things were, or miss the lack of resources—energy, proximity, money, time or know-how—to make this perfect picture their picture. Always there is the possibility of unexpected circumstances and/or people we can’t control to make our dreams come true. That is, if we’re dreaming what our culture tells us is the true picture to strive for on Thanksgiving Day. Our culture is not our friend.
As I think and ponder reasons events such as Thanksgiving Day can sometimes lead to us to be disheartened and discontent, it occurs to me that, like in all of life, we have an Enemy. He comes to distort our vision, causing us
to focus on the wrong things,
to believe the lie we can “make it happen” or
to believe we can “have it all here and now.”
Of course, the main lie that sneaky snake continues to promulgate is that God is holding out on us. We don’t just need what the Father has graciously given but we also need that apple! We don’t just need the Father’s presence, comfort and strength, His mercy and grace to meet each need, but we also need that shiny thing and every piece of the puzzle to fit into place NOW. We forget that there is a here-and-now, and also a not-yet. Heaven is later.
So how can we take Thanksgiving Day back? As I have struggled at times from not remembering to remembering, these are a few of the things God is continuing to teach me.
1. Unlike the world, we have Someone to thank.
It’s not just an “attitude of gratitude,” but a heartfelt thanks to the One who loves me and has done so much for me, the One who walks beside me. He is the One I can look to as He prepares a table for me in whatever wilderness I might be in. Especially on Thanksgiving Day. He has given His Best for me. He invites me to come to Him and trust Him. He can and will help me in even this. I can ask for His daily bread and remember “He has not forgotten the recipe for manna!” God is in my picture. How thankful I am that I have Someone to thank.
2. God understands our deepest longings and our deprivations. In a way they are nostalgia for things that will be. Someday there will be a Thanksgiving Feast where all is perfect. All are gathered around Him. He gives me hope that will not disappoint. I can remember the joy set before me, following Jesus’ example in His journey Home. I am thankful for hope that will not disappoint, for it is in Him, both today and tomorrow to everlasting.
3. With God’s help (and He wants to help) I can change my focus. A friend told me this week she is choosing the focus on the things she does have, rather than on the things she does not have. What a good outlook, especially since God is the lens through which we focus. Not pretending nothing hurts, but with eyes wide open to Him. And then to the blessings He has given in things like the blue sky, the good memories, the warm home, the too-many-to-count things we dohave. As we count these let us first, give thanks for the Giver of all good gifts.
This morning as I was thinking of some who will grieve this year, even as they hope. I was also thinking of some of the emptiness around our own table, some who will be missing, some things that will never be the same. I was aware of the Enemy and his schemes and so before I opened my eyes, I began to think Psalm 23 to myself. Reminding myself of truth and all my Shepherd is to me. As I was focusing on my Shepherd the words of an old song started playing in my mind. A confirmation of the help He can give, for I had not thought of these words for a long time. A wonderful focus God gave me as I turned to Him. May this be your focus as Thanksgiving Day draws near. A beautiful song to sing to myself. A beautiful picture indeed.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace!
Thanks for praying for me and mine this Thanksgiving and as I want to pray for you,