Tomorrow is Feast Day in my six-year-old daughter’s first grade classroom. She has been talking all week about how she is going to dress up as a pilgrim. It is my great honor to be a part of the Feast Day by serving as the official Thanksgiving turkey carver. I am working hard visualizing how I will carve the turkey while thirty first graders and their parents watch. I have carved a few turkeys in my day, so I think I am ready. This will be my pre-game carving exhibition in preparation for carving the LaMew family turkey later this week.
I have turkey on the brain, but this week is really about another “t” word–thanksgiving. What does it mean to say, “thank you?” Its funny how casually we use the phrase “thank you.” In fact, those two words are plastered everywhere. When you pay at the pump a receipt automatically prints with the words “thank you” at the bottom. When you are throwing your trash away at Wendy’s the words “thank you” are imprinted on the wooden flappy trash can door that’s covered with catsup. Everyday I type the words “thank you” into emails and “thx” in my text messages. Of course, it goes without mentioning how much we say “thanks.” Someone opens the door ahead of you–“thank you.” You leave Blockbuster video and hear “thanks.” You give someone bad news and someone says sarcastically, “thanks a lot…”
It is good that we are a thankful culture. I appreciate that part of our midwestern hospitality. But, what does it really mean to be thankful? Is it something that you feel? Is it something that you say? Is it about sincerity of heart that defines true thankfulness? (Like when our kids offer a weak thank you and we fire back “say it like you really mean it.”)
After spending some time this past week thinking about thankfulness and hearing Pastor Jason teach a fantastic message on the topic this weekend, I am reminded that thankfulness is a decision we make not a feeling we experience. The word for thankfulness in the Bible is a combination of two words “good” and “grace.” Thankfulness is a decision to recognize the infinite worth of God’s grace. It is a statement that puts life into immediate perspective. It is a conscious choice, despite the circumstances, to recognize God’s gracious presence. It is a statement that says, “everything I have comes from the gracious hand of God and through Him I have ultimate joy and lasting peace.” Imagine if we were reminded of God’s grace and presence every time we said or heard the words “thank you?” The next time you say “thank you” to someone in a casual manner pause inwardly for a moment and reflect on “God’s good grace.”
Here is a spiritual discipline. This week, as you approach Thanksgiving Day, let the words “thank you” remind you of a gift giving God. Let those two words be an ongoing reminder that God is present and God is good. Let me get you started.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18