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The great Thanksgiving question (11/20/2011)
From: T.M. Schoewe

Before getting to the mountain we asked you to find at the close of last week’s article, and the real question we all need to ask during our Thanksgiving, we want to clue you in on a couple of dangers you should avoid while giving thanks. Make sure when you give thanks that, your gratitude is not based on how your blessings compare to your neighbors’, whether or not they are more or less than yours. There is little that honors the “Great Giver” by your gratitude if it is prompted by being on top of some of your neighbors; or by your ingratitude because of what others have that you don’t.

And then there is the temptation for us to give thanks for being given comforts greater than our hardships. That robs you of a real “gratitude experience.” We are often told by friends to be thankful that things aren’t worse. You’ve heard of the fellow who was told to “cheer up, for things could be worse.” He did, and sure enough, they got worse. And when things do happen and they do get worse, what happens? What if we only saw Judas as at his best, and Peter as at his worst? For which man would we be thankful? We would make a mistake and create a relationship with the Creator which would be too frail to challenge life as we must experience it. Life is a process of giving up or letting go or leaving something behind for something else we must get in order to survive. And we certainly should not let the reason for our thanksgiving to be solely based upon what we value and possess in life and whether or not we can hold on to it forever. Look at the farmer throw good food into the ground in order for his family to get another crop. Whatever he refuses to throw away cannot return to bless him and his family next year. We get confused in our thanksgiving if we cannot see that we must not only give thanks for what we have and like, but for some of that which we have not liked, or liked and lost or had to let go (you might now have quite a long list of things to be thankful for).

Now we come to what we asked you to do last week, to see if you can find a mountain and the real Thanksgiving question we all need to ask.

And by the way, we bypass the forefather’s reference to the “Divine Providence” as being what created and is behind this great nation, to spell out the “Lord God.” And, it is by getting on that mountain of Psalm 106 v.1; it is seeing things from high up, NOT CLOSE BY. “Praise the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.” Thanksgiving can be, as we celebrate it, cheap and empty, and it can insult the Lord God if we do not understand the words in that Psalm. We are to thank God for what He is and for what He has done and IS DOING, and for seeing to it that we are gathered into the redemption of all of life. It is seeing things from His point of view. So, it is all a matter of what our thanksgiving focus is. It is like seeing the forest from the trees or getting the “big picture.” That’s when you can really participate in the great Thanksgiving experience.

Maybe a story will help. Over fifty years ago we were living on Warren A.F.B. in Cheyenne, Wyoming. There was an old, retired Master/Sgt. who still worked at the base theatre as the janitor. He was rather well to do and owned and operated a number of apartment buildings near the base. For sometime he wanted to show us what he called his “little ranch.” He wanted us to see it. He called it his “palace of beauty” where he spent some happy days but now he was too old to do so. One day we went to see it. After a long drive we slowed to pass a broken down farm house set in a patch of tumble weeds overgrown with shrubbery. The house was weather-beaten and behind it was a collapsed barn. Rusting machinery lay scattered about. Debris of old cars lay in heaps. We were speechless! And we could not understand how this was so important to him. He sensed this and gave instructions to turn onto an old logging road. After several miles we came to an opening, it was a high clearing. We got out of the car and from there we could look down on that “little ranch.” Sure enough there was the rundown house, the collapsed barn, and the rusty machinery. But now we could see the deep green of a couple of thousand acres of virgin timber that reached up surrounding the little farm. Behind the trees lay the hazy mountain flatlands, beyond which, was the sharp brilliance of a snowy range that sparkled in the sunlight. The deep blue sky made the whole scene “beautiful.” “There,” said the old sergeant “is my place!” “How do you like it?” All we could say was “beautiful.” And so it was!

And so it is, if you want a real thanksgiving experience, separate yourself from the nearsighted counting of things you have that others do not (whether good or bad). We can restrict ourselves from counting only those things that are close by getting up on top of the mountain with our heavenly Father, and for a few moments stretching out our spirits to see what He sees and what is important to Him. And if we want to respond to the infinite privilege of being sons and daughters of God, then we cannot stop by just thanking God for creation and that which suits our desires. Gratitude is not merely a token tip but means real commitment, which is what God wants us to strive for in our lives.

The only one who ever did this, and did it perfectly, was He Who said so often, “I thank Thee Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” Thank God He did! It was not only for Himself BUT FOR US! If ever we have a grievous sin to confess it is the sin of unthankful ness or simple ingratitude. It is the Lord Jesus Who so often went into the mountain to pray, Who introduces us to Almighty God as our Father, Who takes each of us into the mountain to see. He made you and has given you your body and soul, your reason and all your senses, and still preserves them all; for which it is your duty to thank and praise and serve Him. AND DESPITE OUR INGRATITUDE, He shows you a mountain, called Calvary, where the Lord Jesus made a perfect sacrifice, giving Himself for the world, including you and me! That you might see this for yourself, His spirit brings this to us in our Remembrance of Him, which you will find in many churches in this community. It is a real memorial of His thanks and what He actually offered for the greatest sin of the human race, my ingratitude and yours!

On this mountain of Thanksgiving your spirit begins to ask “Lord, what can I do for you?” That puts the “I” in thanks. And because man through the years have asked that question, you know about the Lord today.

So when you give thanks make sure you ask, “Lord of heaven and earth, what can I do for You?” That is the thanksgiving question. And whatever He tells you to do (and He will), DO IT! That will be real thanksgiving. Sine cera



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