Thanksgiving Thoughts

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Sunset over Thunder Bay River/Lake Wynah, Alpena, Michigan, August 18, 2021

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. – Psalm 100:5 (NIV)

God has given me many gifts. In this season of Thanksgiving, I’m going to dwell on three of them: the past, the present, and the future.

I’m thankful for my past, especially that I grew up in a home where I witnessed my mother talking to God all day long. “Don’t You let it rain,” she’d say when she hung the laundry on the line. I’m sure that’s why I still live with an awareness of God’s abiding presence moment by moment.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:7–10 NIV).

Which brings me to the second gift for which I’m thankful: the present. For the freezer and panty shelves stocked with the vegetables we harvested from our garden. For the firewood stacked outside on the patio. For health and energy. For Friday night date nights with my husband. For our beautiful, fun grandchildren, who are growing up way too fast. For my husband’s part-time job that helps to make ends meet in our senior years. For opportunities to work out of my home doing what I love best. For the sunsets and sunrises and birds and trees and butterflies and all God created for our enjoyment and use. God’s abundant provision blows me away.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God . . . And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches . . .” (Philippians 4:6, 19 NIV).

Glory . . . that brings me to the third thing for which I’m thankful: the future. 

There’s quite a bit of interest these days in end times. I’m not too worried about it. I don’t put a whole lot of stock in man’s predictions about end times. My Bible tells me only God knows when this will be. So why get all stressed about it? 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

“The one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above” (Philippians 3:13–14 TEV).

Past, present, future—my times are in His hand (Psalm 31:15).

Thank you, Lord, for Your abiding presence, abundant provision and awesome plan. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 100, Joel 2:23–24, and Habakkuk 3:17–18.

The Best Gig

George (fourth from left) plays for a gig in July 2014. Photo courtesy of George Caylor.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. —Psalm 90:12 NIV

Music has been a part of my friend George Caylor’s life since he toured with a rock-and-roll band in the 1960s and early ’70s. At age 77, George still enjoys playing his bass guitar in an oldies band.

One day he and the band members visited their lead guitarist, Mark, who was in the home stretch of a terminal illness. 

“We didn’t know that he would die the next day,” George told me. “We knew he was going to die, but we thought it might be in a month. We didn’t know. Nor did he.”

They got to talking about the best gig they ever played. 

“It was that job that we did for those rich people, that served Oysters Rockefeller,” George said. “That was the most unbelievable delicious spread of food I’ve ever had.” 

They laughed. “George, you would think about the food.” 

“That gig down in Virginia Beach,” Randy said. “Remember the size of the crowd and the cheering? The money they paid us?”

Then Mark—who was going to die the next day—put in his two cents.

“Do you remember the gig we played at that little vineyard in the Blue Ridge Mountains? Remember how sweet the people were? And then at the end of the day, do you remember that spectacular sunset?”

“And I got to thinking,” George told me. “Was it the money? The crowds? The cheering? The food? Or was it the sweet people and the spectacular sunset that made the most impact on our lives?”

Too often we go through life trying to make a difference. We want our lives to count for something. So we spend our time on earth doing, doing, doing—all too often feeling like a hamster on an exercise wheel, going round and round but not getting anywhere. And wondering if, in the end, what we did mattered.

Or we spend our days getting all we can to make our lives easier, more enjoyable. Then one day we realize our homes and offices and vehicles are cluttered with stuff we thought we needed. So we rent storage space to put all that extra stuff we don’t need but we don’t want to part with.

Our sentiments echo those of the writer of Ecclesiastes, who pursued work, pleasure, wisdom, knowledge—in short, everything under the sun. Only to discover, in the end, it all was meaningless—“a chasing after the wind.”

So what, then, gives our lives meaning and purpose? 

The crowds? The applause? The money? The things we can get with money? The food? 

Or the people we encounter? The spectacular sunsets. Autumn in all its glowing glory. A soft snowfall. The first flower of spring. The smell of freshly mowed grass on a summer’s day. The scent of a freshly bathed baby. The feel of a child’s arms around your neck. The sense of your spouse’s presence next to you when you wake up in the middle of the night.  The explosion of flavor from the first tomato of the season. The roiling black clouds of a coming storm. Or the white cotton ball clouds that change shape as they float through the summer sky. Cloud shadows skimming across a field. The gurgle of a mountain stream. The whirr of a hummingbird’s wings. 

I don’t want to look back on my life and realize I missed all that really mattered. All that God placed within my reach but I didn’t touch, taste, see, smell, listen to, enjoy. Everything that cost absolutely nothing but the time to took to stop and savor it.

What about you? What is the best gig you ever played?

Help me, O Lord, not to chase after the wind but to spend my days with my eyes and heart wide open, ready to recognize and embrace the simple pleasures You bless me with every day. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 90.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.