Monday, November 10, 2008

The Grateful Gate

As I reminisce about being a child and what I was taught in school about the pilgrim's first Thanksgiving I recall simple images. My knowledge of the event was a celebration with abundant food,smiling people in strange black attire along with scantily clad Indians as their guests. I am sure I was given more information than this, but it seemed to be what I remember seeing in all of the pictures. Little did I know that Thanksgiving represented so much more than food, Indians and Pilgrims. It symbolized hardship and bitterness, broken pride and humility, perplexity and revelation,loss and life as well as new found hope. There was a mixing of the good and the bad. However, the good prevailed.

As my thoughts continue to travel back to the Pilgrim's very first Thanksgiving, I am reminded they had to go through so many inconsistencies, trials and sickness, as well as losing loved ones to death on their journey over to America. Even after they arrived, it was too close to the winter season to plant crops. Therefore, food was scarce and there was nothing fresh available. Even their water was unclean. Sickness and death continued to visit them after they set up their new homes.

I wonder how they must have felt? They came here to find freedom-freedom to worship God without living under so much oppression and control. They must have had high hopes when they set sail for an unknown land. I can almost hear the young mother with sick children on her knees questioning through her tears, "Lord, we thought this was what You were leading us to do? And this is what we get?" How about the father standing out in the cold late at night looking into the stars asking, "How will I feed my family tomorrow God? Will you provide for us?"

A wave of emotion almost unsettles me as I ponder on how much of our own lives relate to the internal and external conflicts of these first settlers of America. We are all Pilgrims in our own journeys in life. Have you been through any hardship lately? How about a major transition? Maybe you have had internal stirrings and questions about your life and purpose. You are a pilgrim and so am I.

If the new citizens had not gone through such intense difficulty would they have really been grateful? Would there have even been a first Thanksgiving? Probably not. The gate to gratefulness is the on the sea of hardship and the road of life's bumps and ruts. It is in the toughness of winter seasons that we truly learn that we are not in control but there is a loving God who steers our ships to the best destination in the end. We then can truly enter the "grateful gate" and deeply appreciate the things in life that really matter-life, family, faith and friendship.

As I reflect upon the last year of my own life, I realize that God has bought our own family through a stormy sea to a new land- much like the first Pilgrims. Last year John lost his job right before Christmas. I had just had a miscarriage over Thanksgiving weekend. And we had very little income for 9 months. However, looking back I can see the hand of God caring for us, providing and comforting our family.

Now we are in a new and unfamiliar land of Arizona. There are still days of perplexity and wondering why we are here. However, I am thankful that I do not always have to understand but a few simple things. God loves his kids and He is a good God. For that I am grateful. I have walked through the grateful gate and look forward to the journey ahead. My encouragement to you today is to prepare your heart for this season of appreciation. Make a list of all your blessings. Remember how the Lord brought you through tough times. And if you are going through a painful time now, He will bring you through it. Happy Happy Thanksgiving Friends.

Morning Bagel:O my soul bless God. From head to toe, I 'll bless His holy name. Oh my soul bless God, and don't forget a single blessing. Psalm 103:1-2 (The Message Bible)

Daily Hug: Thanksgiving is so much more than a bountiful meal. It is a time of reflection of all God has done for us. He gave everything He had just so we could have life and be expressions of His love in a dark world. He turned Himself inside out just because He loves us so. What more is there to be more grateful for? If we have that, we have everything.

Lord, You forgive, You heal broken bodies and shattered hearts. You crown me with loving kindness and tender mercies. You love me the same every moment. There is nothing good I can do to make you love me more, There is nothing bad I can do to make You love me less. You wrap me in Your goodness. You clothe me in dignity. You make all things come out right in the end. You know me inside and out and You still delight in me. The greatest benefit I have is Your love. You love me and I will treasure that benefit all the day. In Jesus Name. Amen

( You can go to to read Psalm 103. I would encourage you to read it in The Message version. It is a beautiful love note from God to you and you can read it back to Him as you walk through the "grateful gate" this day.)

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