Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Effects of Thanksgiving

One of the things that I love about children is their unending ability to simply become excited about the smallest of things. Just last night I walked in the house and shouted "Taco Rico...." (Translation: I'm home and I got tacos from Taco Rico). Within moments there were three little ones moving around the kitchen like starving vultures. My youngest let out a yip, "YEAH.... TACOS..." I could give endless examples from yesterday alone. Moments of excitement and thanks welling up from within a child.

Interestingly, as we get "older" and more "mature" one of the things we forget how to be is thankful. We become too sophisticated to be excited and too responsible to be thankful -- we simply forget. Somewhere in between mortgage payments, car loans and moving the yard we lose the wonder of a child. Thanksgiving has the ability to begin reversing these effects.

I've noticed, at least in my own life that Thanksgiving:

1. Helps bring things into perspective.

Philippians 4:6-7 says,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

There are times in life where things just don't make sense. There are seasons were there seems to be a residual funk that lingers. Thanksgiving has a way of bringing perspective into these times. I love what Asaph wrote in Psalm 73:16-17

"Still, when I tried to figure it out,all I got was a splitting headache . . .
Until I entered the sanctuary of God.Then I saw the whole picture."

2. Thanksgiving helps us to identify God in the midst of Life.

Where's Waldo?
I enjoy looking at Where's Waldo? pictures.

In these images, Waldo is always there - somewhere. We don't always readily see him at first glance. In fact, more often than not, it takes a little searching, looking, even waiting for him to emerge from within the crowd before our eyes.

He's always in a busy scene with lots of movement, walking stick in hand.

In life, God is a lot like Waldo. He's always there in the midst of the busyness, yet its in the midst of such busyness that He becomes lost - at least to our awareness. Yet, He is still present in the midst of the chaos, if only we can pause, breath and once again become aware of His present-nearness. Paul wrote to those in Philippi that God was there in their midst, working within them, even when they were unaware.

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." (Philippians 2:12-13)

Thanksgiving helps us to become more aware of His presence. It helps us to identify God in the midst of life.

3. Thanksgiving helps us remember that ultimately it's not about us - but God & Others...

When I pause long enough to reflect on where God is working within my life, circumstances and relationships, I become thankful. In the midst of such thankfulness, I'm reminded that life is so much bigger than me... We all need reminding of this, sometimes more often than others. Nonetheless, in thanksgiving, we become aware of God, His provisions and the others who are a part of our life.

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