Turkey, Macy’s Day Parade, football (both in person and on TV), family, friends, and for a brave few… Black Friday shopping! These and many others have become “tradition” in many of our lives during this time of the year. Not having some of these events would make our Thanksgiving Day seem so incomplete! Have you stopped to think what the purpose of these traditions are in your life?
For the past three years our church has had a Turkey Bowl. Every Thanksgiving Day at 8 a.m., a group of men (both teens and adults) meet at a local park and proceed to “build up” their appetite. For some wives, this is a chance to get their husbands and sons out of the kitchen. I have shared Thanksgiving meals with some of the competitors and my question remains the same, “Why are you doing this?”
Have you ever asked yourself that question? Why watch football? Why the parade (seriously, all the men are wondering)? My goal is not to challenge traditions. My family has them, too! My prayer is that you would have some traditions that would cause you and your family to draw closer to the Lord and to each other.
The Thanksgiving Box
Since our first Thanksgiving, my wife and I have written all that we are thankful for and placed our pieces of paper in a Thanksgiving Box.
Regardless of who’s spending Thanksgiving with us, we would take a few moments and write down all that we are thankful for. For some the list can be quite lengthy. For some just a few words. After we finish, because of the teacher in us, we tell everyone to exchange papers (don’t worry, it’s not being graded). Then we take turns reading what someone else wrote. After we finish, we place everything in our Thanksgiving Box.
The reaction to the reading can be mixed. Sometimes we all tear up. Sometimes we all laugh. Sometimes we’re just silent. But all the time, it causes us to be thankful.
Someone once said, “Thinkfulness is thankfulness.” Dr. John Goetsch said it this way, “If we pause to think we will have cause to thank.”
The Effect of the Box
The Bible tells us in Job 5:7 that “man is born unto trouble…” Interpretation: no one is immune to trials. No matter how you were raised or how long you’ve been a Christian, there will be times in your life when your faith in God will be tested.
Do some weeks and months seem longer to you than others? Isn’t it true when they say, “Time flies when you’re having fun?” And it certainly drags when you’re waiting in the doctor’s office or you’re in a situation you’d rather not be in.
During those times of my life, I have found myself reaching for my Bible in one hand and our Thanksgiving Box in the other. After reading a few chapters in Psalms, I read my version of “Psalms,” the pieces of paper in my Thanksgiving Box! After a few moments, my heart is reminded of Who God is as well as what He can and has done for me.
The effects of giving thanks to God is more than our humble attempt to praise Him. It is also His gentle reminder that it will be okay. Why? Hebrews 13:5 answers it all, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” As a Christian, I have God and He has me. And through all these years, He has proven to me time and time again that He is faithful to provide for me, protect me, and empower me through life.
May I remind you, contentment is not about what you have but rather Who you have? Traditions ought to remind us of God and His faithful work in our lives. May I urge you to check your Thanksgiving traditions today?