the day we gave thanks.

thanksgiving is big goings on in the linton household. like whoa. with very few exceptions, the thankgivings in my life have been celebrated with housefuls of people.  friends, family, co-workers, and sometimes even random people- bring it on.  dad gets the biggest turkey he can find, and a ham, and we cook up a storm.  mom goes crazy on pies and breads and goodies, i contribute something …. (this year, it was two pumpkin pies and corn casserole- holy goodness.) … and the kitchen island is a veritable smorgasbord.

[the <thanksgiving table> is a veritable smorgasbord orgasbord orgasbord …. ok, sorry, back to the story. i digress.]

everyone congregates in the kitchen, we turn off the parade or the football game or the james bond marathon, and dad’s thanksgiving day speech begins.  he is usually carving the turkey while talking, which is awesome and funny in itself …. and while i can recite the speech verbatim, i am somehow always moved. my dad is one of the most generous and thankful people i know- and the older i get, the more i realize that those two qualities go hand in hand.  again, i digress …..

this year, dad decided to change things up a little. i talked him out of singing, but agreed to do a scripture reading.  he and i sat down around noon and started listing off psalms that i was going to read.  the new and improved speech went something like this:

-genesis 1:1- in the beginning, GOD created the heavens and the earth. even at creation, God knew we would mess up. he already knew, even before he formed water and land and sky, that we would choose ourselves and that he would send Christ to purchase us out of the slavery we willingly sold ourselves into.

-psalm 107:1,2; 8,9; 21,22- oh give thanks to the lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. / let them thank the lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of men! for he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. / let them thank the lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of men! and let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

-psalm 146:1,2-praise the lord! praise the lord, oh my soul! i will praise the lord as long as i live; i will sing praises to my god while i have my being.

another thing we do every year- something most people do every year- is go around the room and list what we are thankful for.  but we do it a little differently- we list the things that god did in us that were unpleasant or painful.  for example, this year i said that i was thankful for a relationship that didn’t work out. while it hurt me- a lot, actually- i can see, a few months later, that it was for my best that the lord didn’t allow that relationship to go any further. my dad talked about the injury to his hand that he sustained early this past summer- he was being careless, and hurt himself.  he had to go to the hospital and undergo painful therapy, but he didn’t lose his hand, and he has full mobility and strength in it now. someone else talked about a broken engagement. others talked about jobs that disappeared, cars that broke down, and family members that died. these things on the surface are not good- but when we consider that the one who brought them to be and allowed them to happen is the same one who ‘satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with good things’, we look at them a little differently.

important to realize, though, is that while god does fill us with good things, and he loves us, and wants us to have joy and know love- that is not his first priority.  his first priority is and always will be the glorification of himself. and if it glorifies god to bruise us, then he will. if it glorifies god to allow us to have cancer, then he will.  if it glorifies god to cause a flood or a drought, then he will. if it glorifies god to permit a tragedy rather than forbid it, then he will do so. but pain and loss in our lives do not indicate a lack of love, but rather an abundance of it.  do we experience god more when our bills are paid and we are healthy, or when life has brought us opportunities to test and see his faithfulness?  he loves us too much to let us wallow in the mire of complacency that we’ve entangled ourselves in. every moment, every situation is an opportunity to display Christ in ourselves.  god desires two things: his glorification, and our best interests. what we fail to understand is that pain is the most effective instrument with which to bring about both.  it is in our best interest to be like Christ. but we will not choose that on our own, nor are we capable of achieving it. we need catalysts in our lives to push us in the direction we were supposed to be  running in all along.

what i am most thankful for this year: Philippians 2:13- for God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.

i am thankful that god didn’t give up after genesis 3 when eve ate the fruit and adam hid from god, and their sin plunged mankind into hopelessness. i am thankful that god loved himself enough to love us enough to send Christ to live perfectly and die in such a way that we could be ransomed and given hope. i am thankful that god works in me to desire to do his will, and then gives me the strength to do it. i am thankful that god is bigger than what i make him. i am thankful that he is bigger than me.  i am thankful he chooses to allow me opportunities for joy in serving him.

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