Whenever I think of Thanksgiving, my mind usually goes back to one particular holiday that I will never forget. I was eleven years old and just a few days before Thanksgiving my niece, who was just one year old, had to undergo a very serious heart procedure. The surgery was very difficult and she nearly died but in the end it was successful. That Thanksgiving my mom spent the day with my sister and her husband in the hospital and my dad was charged with providing Thanksgiving dinner. As you might expect, dad was not really the best cook but he did the best he could and made us a thanksgiving dinner of baked beans and hot-dogs. As we sat down to eat that afternoon, our door bell rang. It was our neighbor, Bev Olenick who along with her two daughters, Dana and Kim, had brought us a full thanksgiving dinner— turkey, stuffing, and all the fixings. That day, I learned the meaning of being a good neighbor and I will never forget the kindness of that wonderful family. That was over thirty years ago but the memory of that one act of kindness is still just as vivid today as it was then. I am thankful that God allowed me to live in a neighborhood with neighbors like the Olenicks.
This afternoon my family and I spent the day with my mom and we watched the video of my niece’s wedding, which occurred earlier this summer but that we were unable to attend. As we watched the video, I could not help to think about all of the blessings that were captured in that moment. There standing at the altar was my niece Joy, the very same niece that I mentioned above, who was marrying a wonderful young man. Performing the marriage was my best friend and former associate Pastor, who had just weeks before lead my niece to salvation. I could not help to think about all of the things I have to be thankful about.
Thanksgiving typically begins by remembering those things that God has done in the past. In 1 Chronicles 16:8, for instance, King David writes, “Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!” This verse was written on the occasion of David bringing the Ark of the covenant into the city of Jerusalem. This was a momentous occasion, which served as the perfect opportunity to reflect on God’s faithfulness in the past. As I sat last night and watched the video of a momentous occasion in the life of our family, I could not help but to reflect on the ways that God has been faithful to our family over the years and pause for a moment to give Him thanks.
Tomorrow, as you gather with your family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope that you will pause for a moment to think about all of the ways that God has blessed you in the past. How He has protected, guided, and cared for you everyday of your life? But even more importantly, I hope that you will stop to remember how God worked through history to bring His Son Jesus into the world to die for your sins and to secure your forgiveness.