I love Thanksgiving. Most say Christmas is their favorite holiday, but for me, Thanksgiving is the day I look forward to most. Christmas has become such a commercial exercise in American culture. I still get excited about the retelling of the Christmas story for those ears needing to hear of a Savior born, but the mall, traffic, and hectic schedule is not something I look forward to. So, before the chaos of the Christmas season begins, I think it is important to ask myself just what is my role as a father? What is it that I can teach my child about Thanksgiving?
“And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” Edward Winslow, participant of the “First Thanksgiving”
Mr. Winslow had known want. Roughly half of his party had perished after they reached the mainland of North America. Poverty, famine, and death circled their camp like the leaves falling from a tree in fall. Yet, one good planting yielded a harvest of corn that would be life sustaining for these first pilgrims. So, their response was to offer thanks to a God who was their only Sustainer.
Some use Thanksgiving as a sort of thanks inventory. They go around the table and say something they are thankful for as it seems important to have a moment of reflection. When we live in a world that is always looking for the bigger and better option, it is vital to be still and take stock of what we have been given.
“O Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, And a great King above all gods, In whose hand are the depths of the earth; The peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Psalm 95:1-6
Before we dive into the Christmas season, my hope is to tap the brakes. My family has experienced much change this year. We have seen God’s hand in many areas. From dealing with cancer on a couple of fronts, continuing to rebuild a destroyed church, welcoming a new pastor, and getting ready to sell the only home my family has ever known, there are many things that have caused stress and worry. There have also been moments of providence that can only come from on high.
There are those fantastic moments that God gives in the giggles of my daughter, the date nights with my wife, seeing my church family get back into our new sanctuary, and my mother-in-law still have her husband after a long cancer fight.
I am overwhelmingly blessed, not because of where I live, or what I have, but because of Who loves me. The God of Heaven, who knows the end of time as well as He knows the beginning, loves and cares for me. He constantly calls me to Him through His Son. If that weren’t enough, He balanced the scales eternally in my favor through the death of His Son.
God has set the table and told me not to bring anything. He’s prepared it all. All that is, or was, or will be. He has control of it. He means good for me, no matter how much I argue or fight with Him. My submission is the price. An eternal banquet filled with much better things than turkey and dressing await those who are in Him.
My job as a father is to prepare my child to enter the world; a world that seems ever against God and His teachings. Better than teaching her about cranberry sauce and stuffing, my focus has to be on teaching her of the ever reigning providence of God. I must stress to her the binary option of grace/judgment. I must teach her that Jesus stands ready at all times to receive her home, no matter how far away she gets. I must teach her of the many things we have to be thankful for, both physically and spiritually.
Happy Thanksgiving. May we all remember the many reasons we have to be thankful.