Thanksgiving. The day of celebration and food and family gatherings may be well past us, but the spirit of this holiday is a welcome prerequisite to the coming Advent.
Our thankful spirit is what prepares us.
Because there is so much to be thankful for, this Thank Offering is no small sacrifice.
If we could pile the altar to overflowing it would not be enough.
According to Old Testament law, the Offering of Thanksgiving was an optional offering given completely of free will. Not a set holiday or time, this offering of thanks was to be spontaneous and from a heart of gratitude.
Deliverance. Salvation. Healing. Restoration. Provision. Answered prayer.
Yet, here we are. We offer a prayer and we utter words of “Thank you for…”, and we dive into the piles of food that we have so lovingly prepared without really considering the magnitude of the debt of our thanksgiving.
Weeks of planning and hours of preparation, and in only a few moments, the meal is over and we start talking about Christmas. That beautiful meal is a heap of rubble and someone has to clean it all up.
And I’m thankful.
After all, I do have the convenience of hot running water coming right out of my faucet! (Remember when my well ran dry?)
Well, It did, and I should remember moments like that so I can continually be thankful. Even for dishes.
Or even when things don’t turn out like I planned.
This year I forgot the potatoes.
So we had instant.
Did anyone complain? Of course not– and they ate them anyway. Truth is, there is always so much food that we have leftovers for days. Literally. Then some might complain that we had too much.
These are the moments in life when we are forced to realize that it doesn’t take perfection to make you complete or happy. If circumstances dictate your joy, you will struggle in this earthly existence to ever find it.
We have all seen (and been!) that child that opens a gift, only to be disappointed by the footed pajamas that look like a rabbit or the “useful” gift that our thoughtful relative gave us. The expectations we bring to the holidays can sometimes set us up for a fall.
The Advent is this space of time prior to Christmas when we anticipate the coming Messiah.
When I think of the Old Testament Thank Offering, I see a people who time and again saw God do miracles and yet quickly forgot to be thankful for their blessings. Maybe they didn’t like the way God was providing. (“All we get is manna?!”) Or maybe they didn’t think God’s plan was working–or working fast enough.
Having a humble heart means that I come to realize that HE IS GOD and I AM NOT. He created me, He knows what is best for me, and
If I am trusting God, then I have to choose to trust that He knows better than I do what I truly need.
It is then–and only then–that my sacrifice of thanksgiving will be acceptable.
True thankfulness chooses to be thankful no matter the circumstance.
It is okay to anticipate something better. That’s what hope is. We just can’t allow the focus of our life to be on our own desires–unless the One we are anticipating or desiring is Jesus. The peace and joy that we are looking for came to a stable over 2,000 years ago.
Let the spirit of thanksgiving bring you to the manger.
That God would love us so much that He would come into this world to redeem us–to live and breathe and walk among us:
And then become the greatest sacrifice.
The significance of this event is more than just historical–it is eternal. He came down. The Eternal One stepped out of heaven to bring
HOPE. PEACE. SALVATION. AND ETERNAL LIFE.
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me. This is the will of him who sent me: that I should lose none of those he has given me but should raise them up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6: 38-40