Thanks-giving to Thanks-living

The crackle of the fire in the blazing and inviting fireplace. 

My mother’s white linen tablecloth spread on the seldom-used dining room table.

The smell of the turkey roasting in the oven. 

Pumpkin pies cooling on the countertop. 

My grandmother’s tart but delectably sweet cranberry recipe.

Family gathered from far and near.  Tulsa.  Nashville.  Pennsylvania.

Missing deeply those who are unable to join us around the table.

It’s the thankful time of year.

Thanksgiving is truly one of my favorite holidays.  I love the seasonal reminder that there is so much that I have been given to which thankfulness is the appropriate and necessary response.

I delight in the knowledge that people across the nation pause for a rare moment in time and remember to speak forth words of heartfelt gratitude.

Thanksgiving is a time for remembering … for being grateful … for resting in all that He is and all that He has done.

I don’t know what your Thanksgiving table will look like this year … or who will be gathered around it.  But I want to barge myself uninvited into your annual celebration of gratitude and share with you a few things that God has been sharing with me.

So … from God’s heart … to my heart … to your Thanksgiving table …

1 - Thanksgiving is not a single day on the calendar but it was always meant to be a lifestyle.  Thanksgiving is the particular way that we are able to access the presence of the Father.

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” – Psalm 100:4

Thanksgiving was never meant to be an annual celebration identified by pilgrims, pies and stuffing … but it was meant to be the most accurate demonstration of relationship between children and their heavenly, generous Father.  As the family of God, we are called to respond daily … hourly … moment by moment … as the beneficiaries of the miraculous blessings given from heaven’s resources to our wilderness table of life.

The only possible response is, “Thanks, Dad!”

And we must not wait for a month or a day on a calendar to provoke this heartfelt thanksgiving!  We are compelled to shout it out continually because we are simply quite unable to hold it back.

“Enter with the password: “Thank You!” Make yourselves at home, talking praise.  Thank Him.  Worship Him.” – Psalm 100:4 – The Message Bible

2 – Thanks-speaking is the language of the family of the Father.  It is our native tongue.  We don’t speak with words of complaining … in the tongue of lack … or with the accent of griping.  We are thanks-speakers every day of every year.  We have learned this particular language at the knee of the Father.

Words of rich gratitude fill the dictionary of our hearts and from its deep treasuries we write the story of our lives. 

I am thankful for my home, family and job.

I am grateful for food, for heat, for a car.

Thanks, Dad, for my church family and for my crazy family!  I love them both!

Father, thank you for coffee … and for the giggle of a baby … and for the local library.

I am so thankful for friends who make me laugh … keep me humble … and challenge my thinking processes.

I am grateful for people who enable me to respond like You would.

I am thankful for snow and for sunshine … for thunderstorms … and for spring days.

I am thankful for my Bible … for worship music … for prayers both answered and unanswered … and for YOU, my Father!

3 – Thanks-singing is the choice that has the joyful ability to turn the dry and barren wilderness into a fruitful and lush garden of life.

If you choose to wait to sing until you “feel” like singing … you may never sing again!  Feelings don’t determine the frequency of our song … the depth of the harmonies … or the breadth of its audience.

The song that fills the days of our lives is birthed in the heart of the Father’s love for us.  He loves me!  That gives me something to sing about every day of every year!

When the arctic winds of January are wailing … God gives a song!

When February 14th comes around again and relationships remain difficult and demanding … or your heart shivers from perpetual loneliness … He sings a love song into personal darkness and pain.

When the winter stubbornly lingers into March and April … He sings of His vibrant power and we join bravely in the duet with Him.

And then … when at last spring flowers bloom and the warmth of sunshine re-appears … the song delightfully grows in volume not because of human happiness but because of His dear presence.

And when the flowers fade …  and the leaves begin to fall … and the earth prepares itself for winter’s ferocious onslaught … the song remains steady and strong as the children of God sing with the saints of the ages,

“Great is Thy Faithfulness!  Oh God, my Father! 
There is no shadow of turning with Thee!
 Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.
 Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me!”

4 – Thanks-living is what life is all about!  The only reason that you and I are still alive this year is to give Him more thanks … higher praise … and louder worship.

We do not live for selfish ambition or for personal gain but we live to worship Him!

We breathe to sing to Him!

We exist to write a new song of wondrous thanksgiving and glorious worship!

Our lives are the song that He has been aching to hear this year.  Like a proud papa, He is bending low to hear our childlike attempts at singing a new and challenging song.

Frankly, the Father doesn’t care if we are on pitch or off pitch … He doesn’t notice whether we hit the right notes or the painful, wrong ones … He is not concerned with perfection or performance.  The Father just wants to hear the song. 

And so … when you sit down at the Thanksgiving table next week to indulge in the laughter of family, the bounty of provision and the delight of memories … don’t forget why you were created!  You are alive today in order to sing the song that the pilgrims of faith sang with gusto and with wholehearted joy!  You are here to join in the symphony of praise of those who have gone before but who have served with thanksgiving at their moment in eternity’s calendar.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;

He chastens and hastens His will to make known;

The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing;

Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

 

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,

Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;

So from the beginning the fight we were winning;

Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

 

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,

And pray that Thou still our Defender will be;

Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;

Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!