With another Thanksgiving holiday in the rearview mirror, here’s what has challenged my heart.
Our Thanksgiving was a bit different from other years. Since my wife is still recovering from heart surgery, some gracious friends prepared and delivered our Thanksgiving dinner. I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on how wonderful it was. It was nothing out of the ordinary, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, stuffing and pie, but knowing it was prepared and delivered with a loving and generous heart, in the midst of their own family issues, made it very special. The fact is, we have had several very kind and loving people provide meals for us and we have been extremely thankful for each dish prepared, but more importantly, for each person who took the time and energy to prepare it.
The other day, as I was wandering around the house in the wee hours of the morning, I began to wonder what other people might have been thankful for during their Thanksgiving holiday. For some, I’m sure it’s the overall gratitude for family, friends, and the blessings they have enjoyed throughout the year. For one person we know, it’s simply the fact they have a Thanksgiving to celebrate since they have limited expectations of another. For others, perhaps it was “Finally a day off!” Others might have been planning their Black Friday shopping adventure. Others checking the schedule for their favorite football game. And still others finding themselves exhausted from preparing, serving, and cleaning up after their special dinner festivities.
There is little doubt our culture has done a good job of distracting many people from writing a genuine script of thanksgiving. Our sense of capitalism has distorted our perspective on things which are truly important and worthwhile. My suspicion is it is highly unlikely we will ever again regain a sense of normalcy when it comes to the Thanksgiving holiday. The new normal seems to be a focus on cashing in before the end of the year and getting people to spend money on things they can’t afford, don’t need and in many cases will seldom use.
However, there is another culture out there. The Christian culture. It is as susceptible as any other to the lure of capitalism, but tries very hard to keep the focus where it belongs – thanking God for his blessings, the family we share and the wonderful privileges we enjoy and making a sincere effort to share those blessings and privileges with others who, for whatever reason, find themselves marginalized by society. Unfortunately, it seems all too often that’s a one or two-time holiday experience. Finally, it’s the New Year and we can get back to our comfort zone.
Ouch! Seems as though I just stepped on my own toes. I’m so guilty of having a caring heart during special times of the year and then lapsing into a sense of it’s- all-about-me the rest of the year. Truth is I like my creature comforts. I enjoy a sense of financial well-being. My desire for things is all too often my only desire. My heart knows it should not be this way but my mind says “Hey, you tithe, you give to missionaries, you provide special gifts when circumstances dictate, what more is necessary?” Indeed, what more is necessary?
Is “necessary” the necessary concern? I have little doubt that the “Lord loves a cheerful giver.” The problem I often struggle with is pretty simple; if I give more what will I have to go without? There, I said it. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one out there with that rather distorted way of thinking. The question is, what am I going to do about it? How will I emulate the love of our Lord as he expressed concern and interest for the poor and the marginalized of his time? Can I put aside my bias for those who take advantage of the system and open my eyes to the truly hurting?
Father, give me eyes to see as you see. A heart that loves as you love and a spirit of giving and thanksgiving that glorifies your name.