I love watching the giant balloons of the Macy's Thanksgiving parade floating through New York as wide-eyed children watch. I love the traditional football games. The official start of the Christmas season. The post feast nap. I love it all and Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching.
Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.
From far and near we travel home,
Blessed that we are able.
Grateful. That is a powerful word that is so easy to overlook in the tension of life and the depressing cycles of usually bad news. I have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. I am grateful for another year with my best friend and bride Joni. I am grateful for three wonderful sons, two amazing daughter-in-laws and one soon to appear grandchild. I am blessed that we are able to be together this Thanksgiving. I am grateful for good friends. I am grateful for the abundant blessings of this country.
Grateful for this sheltered place
With light in every window,
Saying "welcome, welcome, share this feast
Come in away from sorrow."
Every year brings sorrow. Friends and family have suffered illness this year. Some have gone through deep trials. Some have passed away. Sorrow is a part of this journey. But there is something healing about counting blessings and feeling gratitude. Taking that time provides a sheltered place from sorrow. For me the light in the window of my soul is my trust in a God that is faithful, loving and good in blessings and in sorrow.
Grateful for what's understood,
And all that is forgiven;
Jesus is the light that said welcome when I felt anything but welcome. He invited me to the feast that I did not deserve to attend because of His grace. Jesus said I was forgiven. How can I be anything but grateful if I understand the magnitude of that undeserved love?
We try so hard to be good,
To lead a life worth living.
I might add a little personal clarification to Carpenter's lyric. I understand the desire to live a life of significance. I get trying to be good. I believe we have a reason for being here. But my experience with the grace of the Lord Jesus has taught me that it is not trying so hard to lead a life worth living that brings peace and joy. It is faithfully following Jesus each day. It is allowing God to love me and asking Him to help me give away that love to others. It is trusting God to provide opportunities to serve. It is believing that God is faithful even through sorrow. It is trusting that what God says about me is true. That I have been changed and I have a new identity in Christ. I am deeply loved and cherished by God. I am declared righteous because of Jesus and that righteousness has nothing to do with how hard I work to be "good". It is because of Christ. I am so grateful for grace. So very grateful.
Paul's words to the Colossian Church make a fitting devotional thought for this holiday.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:12-17, NLT)