The Giving in Thanksgiving

Take another look at Thanksgiving. A good, hard look. A good giving of a look. And don’t be surprised if you see Thanksgiving in a whole new light. I know a dear friend of mine does. She sees the light. She sees the Light. She sees the Light of the world, Jesus, and yesterday confirmed her view of Him when she did something to my utter astonishment. Rather than head out of town to be with family with her whole focus on fellowship with her family, she took a good look around her and found someone that could use a little something special. Me. Me? Yes.

Unlike so much of the world that’s so busy figuring out their own holiday plans, she looked around to see someone who didn’t have any. Yes, with only days to go, I haven’t received a single invitation to a Thanksgiving dinner. Furthermore, for almost 20 years now, my family has not allowed me to spend holidays with them because I spoke of a crime that was committed against me as a child. So what did my friend do? To my complete astonishment, she loaded up my car with some of my favorite foods she had purchased at the grocery store – just a day before her road trip all the way up north, mind you – and gave me the hug of all hugs. A Jesus hug.

See, she knows that Thanksgiving is not all about thanks. It’s about the giving of thanks. And giving is a way of saying thanks. So that’s exactly what she did. It turns out this is one of my easiest holiday seasons in decades. Rather than throw a pity part for myself, and bury myself under the covers with tears of sorrow, justified or not, I have been too wrapped up in giving to those in need to even think much of the holiday. In fact, two people this week had to tell me when Thanksgiving is. I didn’t even know.

To me, every day is thanksgiving. Every day is a day to give thanks to the Lord. And every day is a day to give to those in need. What better way to say thanks to God for all His goodness than to love and serve Him with all my heart, and to love my neighbor as myself – His two greatest commands. Thanksgiving this year is altogether different to me.

Between learning to give my heart and care and time to the Lord, preaching at a soup kitchen, serving homeless people, ministering to people in extreme and dire need, and giving my home to special needs dogs and plenty of others, I have countless opportunities to give thanks by giving to the world around me. As for Thanksgiving day, I’m truly not concerned. My pastor and his wife have a home open to all, to homeless people, to church members, to strangers, friends, and families. I know I am always welcome. I know I can call friends and invite myself over.

I know I can go to a community dinner. I know, best of all, that I can spend the day with my Lord – the very best family of all. My Father God. My husband Jesus. And a heart so filled with Him I am satisfied regardless of where I spend Thanksgiving. It’s so refreshing after all my years of mourning the tragic loss of my family because of the choices they have made to instead rejoice in knowing I am accepted into the family of God through faith in Jesus – and have the privilege of crying out to the rest of the world that we are all invited to place our faith in Jesus and have the most important reason of all to celebrate Thanksgiving. Not merely can we then be thankful for the Lord’s provision. Best of all, we can be thankful for Him!

I ENCOURAGE YOU to express your thanks this season in giving. In giving your heart and your life and your time to the Lord, and in giving to those in need. Before you stick another pie in the oven, before you buy another gift for a grand kid, why not look to the Lord, and look around to find an individual, a family, anyone at all, that could use a blessing this holiday season. I encourage you not to restrict your giving to “this is my annual dues”, “oh, I do this every year,” “this is my yearly tradition”, etc. Give with the right heart. His. For His glory. God loves a giver that is cheerful (2 Cor. 9:7 KJV), according to the Bible. And, for that matter, why not choose not to restrict your giving of thanks to this special season? Every day of the year is special, isn’t it? Give thanks to the Lord……..

Psa 100:1  “A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 
Psa 100:2  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 
Psa 100:3  Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 
Psa 100:4  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 
Psa 100:5  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. (KJV)”

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