Most of us are probably somewhat familiar with the origin of our Thanksgiving holiday. We could trace its history all the way back to the Reformation, the decline of biblical values in society, and the desire of some Christians to be able to worship freely.
However, what is most familiar is the story of the Pilgrims. They started out in England and from there went to Holland. They felt that God was leading them to plant a colony where they could worship and live their lives as the Bible taught. Because they separated themselves and moved in 1608 to Holland they were called “Separatists.”
After twelve years in Holland they packed up again once again in search of religious freedom and a desire to expand their Christian faith. Later the Separatists became better known as Pilgrims which means travelers or wanderers.
That led ultimately to a voyage to America in 1620. The Mayflower landed late in 1620 with only about one third of its passengers considered to be Separatists. Upon arrival not everyone was interested in working to his full capacity and for the first couple of years food was in short supply.
It was at that time William Bradford decided to divide the land and let each household be responsible for meeting their own needs. It turned out to be a very wise decision, as production in the colony went way up. As Bradford later writes he is careful to give God all the credit for numerous events, the decisions that were made, and for leading them in specific ways.
While we have read about the first Thanksgiving in 1621 after the Pilgrims’ first growing season how often do we stop and give thanks for how God has led us? Let’s not forget that that first year was not incredible. One third of the colonists died during that first winter because of malnutrition or disease. The point is we don’t simply thank God when life is overly bountiful, we also thank Him in lesser times. That means we all have a story to tell where God gets the credit.
Carol and I built our first house and lived in it for several years as we added on and finished the basement. Our house was simple and small, but our lives were about to change. We went out on a date on a Friday night. Right after we dropped the kids off at some friends Carol suggested that we take a look at a piece of land she had seen advertised on the highway.
At this point I was in no mood to build another house. After all we had just finished the one we were in. For some reason (I believe God led me), I said ok, “Where is the property?”
We drove by and by Sunday evening we had a deal on five acres of property. It was there that we built our second house and from a financial standpoint it turned out to be the biggest turning point in our lives.
Like William Bradford, I hope to be able to always look back and see how God has worked in my life. Too much happens that I simply cannot take the credit for. What if Carol and I had not gone out on that Friday night? We learned later that another buyer had the money to buy it at 8am on Monday morning. What if Carol had not gone out that day and seen the sign?
The bottom line–God is at work in your life. Have you noticed? Have you taken the time to recount how He has led you?
This Thanksgiving, take some time to review God’s providence, His working in your life, and thank Him.
Thanksgiving: Give God the Credit!
Growing up my dad was a strong proponent of hard work. Physical labor was always admired and held in high esteem in our house.
Now while I was more than ready to work, I also had a fondness for reading. Even as a kid I would sometimes sit and read in an encyclopedia. In fact, back then our family would purchase the yearly update to the World Book Encyclopedia. I would always find time to read part of that yearly volume.
Now that I am in the ministry I continue to read, about 500 pages per week. I am always reading, researching, and writing.
One of the hardest mental concepts I have had to overcome is that I am really working even when physical labor is not involved. Ministry includes things like reading, writing messages, meeting with people, and praying. And while the apostle Paul said that he labored in praying, most people cannot identify prayer alongside hard labor.
Abraham Lincoln grew up in an agrarian society in which physical labor was highly valued. Yet Lincoln found himself reading.
Of course, in his day, reading was somewhat frowned upon. His own cousin considered him lazy, actually very lazy. To the cousin all Lincoln wanted to do was read and write poetry.
However, it was his reading that eventually paved the way for him to seek the presidency of the United States. Somewhere along the way he became comfortable challenging the old concept that placed a high value on physical labor and a low value on reading and writing.
Somewhere in the recesses of your mind you are holding on to a concept that may be holding you back from being who you were meant to be. Whatever your vision, it may not be encouraged by your peers.