If you’re like me, you’re scrambling around today trying to make sure you’ve got everything stocked for Thanksgiving. I made a yuuuuge (bigly!) shopping trip Monday night, but lo and behold, everyone in town needed crushed pineapple. Also, Mom’s prescription wasn’t stocked. And I forgot the cranberry juice cocktail. So I will be going back to the store at least once before Thanksgiving, maybe twice, if the pineapple hoarders get there before me.
Thanksgiving always poses a slight problem for me. It seems society has turned the day of thanks into Triple F Day: food, football, and family.
Don’t get me wrong. All three are great – worthy of giving thanks for. But I’m usually too busy to watch football. And food? Well, since my health issues keep me from enjoying even a speck of it, Thanksgiving ends up being Triple W Day: work, work, and more work. Thankfully, the third F is something I can tangibly enjoy: family. We have added two more members to the slew of us this year, and my tiny house will be full to the brim with blood relatives, from my elderly Mom to a three, almost four, week old infant. Imagine fifteen people running around a thousand square foot house trying to find a spare corner to hunker down in and eat peacefully. It’s hilarious, really, and the dog loves all the leavings the kids spill everywhere. Oh, and the intentional spills my Mom makes, just so the dog won’t be left out.
But what I’m trying to say is that Thanksgiving is mainly a day of sacrifice for me. There is bounty I can see and touch and smell, but not taste. There isn’t an abundance on my plate or palate. I don’t get stuffed to the gills with comfort food. I don’t fall asleep in a recliner with a toddler in my lap during a football game because I am tryptophan drunk. I don’t have to change into sweatpants or bust a zipper. I just work. Cook, clean, serve, clean some more, do a craft with the kids, clean, serve leftovers, clean.
I can’t say my situation is exactly bad. It’s just frustrating. An irksome way to live on Thanksgiving, because I struggle to give thanks for what everyone else can have that I cannot. The good news is that because of my inability to eat anything on the Thanksgiving menu, I don’t struggle as much as I once did to keep focused on the Giver rather than the gifts. Because I can’t enjoy the bountiful harvest, it’s easier for me to enjoy the Supplier of the harvest. Because I am forced to forfeit earthly pleasures, I find it more doable to focus on future Heavenly pleasures, what it will be like someday to eat variety again. To ponder whether in Heaven I will be interested in food at all, or whether I will be so enthralled and captivated by Jesus, I will forget about the plate of yeasty rolls slathered in cinnamon and honey butter, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pecan pie waiting for me. Will I even remain seated, or will I find Jesus so irresistible I make my way to the head of the table to sit quietly at His feet while He partakes of the bounty?
I think when God’s chosen get to Heaven, food and “mansions” and all things material will be secondary. They will wonder why they ever put so much emphasis on the pleasures of this world: everything from food to fancy houses to sex to… did I mention food? Chocodiles and greasy pizza, to be exact? They will be caught up in His glory, His thoughts, His ways, and in finally seeing Him face to face.
Christ will have the preeminence.
And I guess that’s what I aim for at Thanksgiving — for Christ to be first and foremost in my heart and mind. For the Giver of all we enjoy as a family to be infinitely more satisfying, special, and superior to the gifts He’s given.
I even want to be grateful for my affliction, as my friend Anne Kennedy talked about, because the very thing that vexes me also blesses me. The affliction that inhibits me from earthly pleasure also points me toward the pleasure and satisfaction that is mine in Christ, in being His, and in knowing one day, I will feast again. And when I do, I will do it perfectly. Not with any lust in my heart or tendency to love the gift more than the Giver, but in perfect worship and praise, Christ will take precedence. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it” won’t be a hymn I sing anymore. My heart will no longer be unfaithful in any area. The struggle to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind will at last come to an end.
A Happy Thanksgiving to all. I wish you much joy in tasting your bounty. But please don’t forget to taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8).
He is. And He deserves our praise.