Peanut butter and jelly ... little girls and ruffles ... springtime and the smell of hyacinths ... the Fourth of July and fireworks.
Just like all of those things ... and so many others ... thanksgiving and joy are intrinsically and eternally woven together in my soul.
What do “Thanksgiving” and “joy” have to do with another you may ask? Allow me to explain:
I have always loved Thanksgiving day! From the parades to pumpkin pie ... from corn pudding to a Christmas movie in the evening ... from left-over turkey to a deep and heart-felt awareness that I have been blessed so much more than I deserve.
I have relished sitting around a family table with people who are so dear to my heart that it makes me cry even now to remember each one. I have treasured the atmosphere that only a multi-generational scene can evoke.
Grandparents with pride on their faces and contentment in their hearts as they gaze at this crew of humanity who came from their own genetic pool.
Middle-aged mamas and daddy’s who are thankful for a moment when everyone’s knees are under the same table again if only for one meal.
The younger generation up to their eye-balls in daring dreams, new marriages and the delight of babies in the womb and in their arms.
College students home for a long week-end who are completely thankful for this conglomeration of eccentric people that they lovingly call “family”.
And ... the little ones ... rife with mashed-potato faces and bringing laughter to the entire day.
“You have crowned the year with Your bounty, And Your paths drip with fatness. The pastures of the wilderness drip, And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing. The meadows are clothed with flocks, And the valleys are covered with grain; They shout for JOY, yes, they sing.” - Psalm 65: 11-13
And yet still ... what does the fourth Thursday in November have to do with joy?
“Joy” is my passion. It is my message and addiction. It is the call to joy that gives me a reason to live beyond my own preferences and selfish agenda. God has called me to a joy so rich and deep that it is my one assignment in life to convince all others that joy is a sure and certain possibility in the midst of disappointing elections, failing economic systems and hopeless health challenges.
“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” - Psalm 16:11
I dream day and night about how to communicate the strength of joy. I study Scriptures, classic writings and new-found truths concerning joy. I ask questions of those wiser than I. I glean from other hearts, testimonies and stories what it means to be a person of joy. And this is what I now know.
If you don’t love thanksgiving ... you will never experience joy. If you are unable to conjure up a moment of gratitude ... joy will ever be the illusive butterfly of your soul. If you have never discovered the high and holy purpose of worship in spite of your pain ... then you will never know the strength of this three-letter word.
Joy. Thanksgiving. Two words that are forever bound together because of the presence and purpose of One Man. Two words that are the theme and message of One Book.
“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.” - Psalm 100
My prayer this year is that you will know the joy that only a life of thanksgiving can bring. Thanksgiving is not a season or a day ... it is lifestyle that ushers in the joy of His presence! What a gift!