I had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with our family … at least those who could come! I shared that two events this year have informed my notion of gratefulness.
The first was an interview I read with a drought stricken farmer in Arizona. The interviewer asked what the American people could do to help. The farmer replied that there are many problems associated with drought, but only one answer: “They could pray for rain,” he said soberly. Then with a tear in his eye the farmer followed, “but I don’t know if Americans pray much anymore.”
The second was my own interview with a beekeeper. Actually, he’s the president of the Michigan Beekeepers Association. We talked about the disease that is wiping out honey bees. I’d heard about it sometime ago, but figured by now “they” must have figured it out … they didn’t. They aren’t even sure what it is they are dealing with, only that there are less bees available to pollinate plants. In fact, they now ship bees across the USA throughout the pollinating season to help in different parts of the country. He said, as an example, there are barely enough bees in the entire country to pollinate all the crops in California alone.
Thanksgiving, calendar-wise, corresponds to the Jewish Festival of Booths, a yearly celebration of harvest. For the entire week of this joyous festival, old & young, rich & poor live in “booths” fashioned from the branches and leaves of tree saplings as a reminder that they both share a common conception: the Lord is the Maker of them all! The climax of the festival is the pouring of the water and wine to signify man’s utter dependence on and collaboration with God to supply all his needs.
What a contrast with the pitiable dependence more and more Americans are putting in the ever-growing Federal U.S. Government. No matter how many examples put forth of the generous spirit of Americans to help their fellows in time of need – without coercion or credit – the ranks swell with increasing clamor to make all the hardships of life a justification for more government “help.” Rather than seeing that we are in this together sharing the benefits of God’s wondrous bounty called the USA, the worst amongst us take Difficulty’s moment to inflame the darkest in our souls.
Daily I talk with good folks who are frustrated with the state of things here in the USA. One farmer told me we must get out of the way and let this country “burn” to teach people a lesson! I might agree with him if I knew in my own heart I had done everything I could do to persuade my neighbor (beginning with my own “neighbor” sons and grand-sons) of the power of a grateful heart! Maybe the turning of the USA might begin with one good man who gives an appropriate amount of time to humbly express before his own family that he is unafraid to joyously thank God; an expression that shames any devotion to football and Friday shopping sprees.
What impact if every young man and woman could both see in action and hear from the lips of the guardians of their souls this common prayer at the Festival of Booths:
>“God, You have chosen us from among all nations, You have loved us and desired us. You have not chosen us because we are more numerous than others, or because of our righteousness or our wisdom. Only because of Your love for us – an abiding love which is not dependent upon anything. What can man do on his own? And if he is righteous, of what benefit is this for You? Because You desired us – not because of our merits – we are all equal in Your eyes. We should all therefore see each other as equals, love each other wholeheartedly with a love that is not dependent upon anything and which will last for eternity.”
Let us make Thanksgiving more than a fleeting “amen” at the end of Uncle Joe’s dinner prayer. Let us give ourselves wholly – mind, body, spirit – to love and praise the God from whom all blessings flow! Let us work to help our sons & daughters, neighbors and communities realize everything we have comes from the hands of our great and generous Maker who calls us to live daily as if our lives depended on Him!
Let us be grateful especially for the rain and bees which remind us that we have a very tenuous grip on life without God’s blessing and protection!
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