It’s that time of year where the primary sights and smells of our blessed and fortunate homes are that of fall décor, cornucopias, and turkey dinners. The time where refrigerators, freezers, and pantries alike are stuffed with preparatory ingredients for a savory and delectable feast; and the time where families and friends gather, cook, eat, and give thanks for the bounty before them. This week of Thanksgiving is a time where travelling families embark, to-do lists are written and executed, shopping trips take place, and celebrations commence. It is a joyous time, but do you ever feel like it is also a busy time?
I can picture it now: Thanksgiving dinner is coming to a close, turkey and stuffing are being packed into their leftover containers, and families are saying their heartfelt goodbyes over coffee and pie. The completed, gravy-stained to-do lists are hastily discarded, and the new, Christmas-themed lists make their debut as families part ways at the end of the day. The Thanksgiving festivities come to an end, and we transition into the preparation season for the next holiday. Black Friday ads seem to be circulating earlier and earlier each year, and stores open their doors to chaos and “deals of a lifetime!” (Altogether too early) on Thanksgiving evening. We don’t want to miss those sales, and we need to purchase the best gifts for our loved ones, so many of us oblige.
This may sound familiar to you, or it may not, but my guess is, it is human nature to get caught up in what is seen. We seem to be in a perpetual state of busyness and lists, and sometimes struggle even catching a breath. Our hearts have such a proclivity toward stress and harbor a disposition of anxiety, especially during big holidays with much ahead of us to complete. The season tends to fill up more with tasks, traditions, and to-do’s than with the spiritual filling we may need. Our postures exemplify tiredness, rather than thankfulness, and our thoughts resonate closer with, “I have so much to get done!” than, “I have so much to be still and thank God for.” There is certainly nothing wrong with packing joy into the Thanksgiving and soon-to-be Christmas seasons, but our seasons often appear to center more around packing all of the traditions in than remembering what those traditions are for.
Like much of the Christian walk, it takes intentionality to reverse that human nature. Thanksgiving is a time to be still, meditate on, and be higher attuned to the goodness of God and recognize the plentiful blessings He has undeservingly lavished on us. In all we do, the Spirit of our incredible God invites us to hold a posture of thanksgiving. From the biggest blessings to the smallest, “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). The food we eat and the families we eat it with, the rising and setting of the sun, and even the seemingly mundane, but astonishingly intricate details of a flower on the Thanksgiving table—for all this we can thank and praise our good and creative God. Whether we are hosting and cooking this year or simply dining, with family or alone, we can straighten our tired, weighed-down, and worried backs and reach up in a posture of thanksgiving to a God who provides all we need in every season until the blessing of Salvation becomes a reality.
At Thanksgiving and always, let us make time to be still and be thankful, and partake in this true and honest form of worship. Take some time within your families to dive into the Word and into prayer together to thank God for all He’s done. Be intentional to create moments of stillness to sit at the feet of our Savior. There are so many ways that we as individuals or families can acknowledge our blessings: make lists on paper, create a Thanksgiving garland of leaves with each leaf being a listing of something we are thankful for, or simply take the time each day to pray in thanksgiving for a few of our gifts from God. Parents, you also have a great opportunity surrounding this holiday about thankfulness to teach your children what it looks like to hold to an attitude of contentment and giving thanks in all things. We all have an opportunity to be an example of this to everyone we are gathered with.
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It doesn’t say “give thanks in some circumstances… when I happen to find the time amidst my to-do lists and when I also am surrounded by only good things happening in my life.” It says give thanks in all circumstances, regardless of the season in life. This year, let’s relax in our cooking and preparations and know that God is taking care of us and has blessed us with all we have before us. Let’s worship with thanksgiving in everything.
God has blessed us with many gifts. Take the time to look around for them. Even if your list feels short in this season of your life, you can be assured that you have the greatest blessing of all time: the gift of Jesus that allows us the adoption as sons and daughters of the King, and the Salvation that His grace and mercy made possible to be ours. I pray you remember in all things, through the preparation, chaos, or stillness, that He gave His life to give you yours. What a great God. A blessed Thanksgiving to you, my friends. To GOD be the glory.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called Children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
Photo courtesy of Elisa Schulz Photography