Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thanksgiving: A Time of Reflection

by Gregory A. Johnson

Thanksgiving: A Time of Reflection, by Gregory A. Johnson
My favorite time of the year is Thanksgiving. I cannot think of much I don’t like about it.

I like turkey and all the trimmings. Pumpkin pie ranks in the upper echelon of pies I am most fond of, with a mound of whipped cream in the shape and enormity of snow-capped Mount Hood decorating the top of my slice.

I have precious memories of times I spent with Dad in the woods during this time of the year, allowing his love and respect for God’s creation to be deposited in my intellect, becoming a part of my heart and soul.

I can still smell the goodness of aromas I experienced as a child, coming from mom’s kitchen, as I waited anxiously to gorge on oyster dressing, fresh cranberries, and sweet potatoes, along with a fat turkey leg that was always reserved for me.

Yes, I love Thanksgiving. I always have. I always will.

Although Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and be thankful for everything that God has so graciously provided, enjoying it has no relation to the abundance of what we have or what we lack. I can remember many times during our years of pastoring small churches in impoverished parts of Appalachia, that Becky and I didn’t know where our next meal was coming from or how we were going to pay the bills, but I still had everything that I was thankful for: my wife, my children, family, friends, a roof over our heads, and most importantly, God.

God has always been faithful, both in the lean times and in the times of abundance. When my dreams were shattered, he was there to pick up the pieces. When I didn’t want to live, he was there to breathe his life and purpose back into my being, helping me pick myself up, and giving me hope in the prison of despair that held me captive. Tattered and torn, I would recover, time and time again, experiencing his resurrection power, receiving healing and life.

As I have matured in age and in my relationship with the Lord, I have grown fond of realizing thanksgiving more frequently than annually. More and more, it has become a part of daily life instead of an observed holiday.

God’s word says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV).

We live in a world where prayer time has been filled with a wish list, asking God for what we want instead of thanking him for what he has done, is doing, and will do, according to his word. When we are self-focused and only come to God with a wish list, our hearts and minds grow troubled with all the problems represented by what is on our list. When we are God-focused and come to him, giving thanks for what he has done and what he will do, our problems become small, and our faith is enlarged. Absorbing his peace, we are refreshed, renewed, and revived, with hearts and minds protected.

Beloved, I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful for God. I’m thankful that he is healing you, providing for you, protecting you, and saving you from this world.

I pray that you have a blessed Thanksgiving, both now and always.

Know that you are loved,