This week Maureen and Sandra offer a double serving of blogging goodness in celebration of Thanksgiving. We hope you enjoy these reasons for having a gratitude-filled holiday!
To Whom Do We Give Thanks?
Clouds stretched out like cotton balls wisped across a cerulean sky washed clean of smog from yesterday’s rain. I pulled my eyes away from the traffic to catch a glimpse of the display then whispered to my dashboard, “Thank you, Jesus.”
The mid-morning horizon, which took my breath away for a second that felt like eternity, reminded me of the abundant splendors around us—in nature, in loved ones, in peppermint mochas, and in a warm bed at night. These beauties nudge us toward gratitude. But more than that, these gifts cause us to wonder: To whom do we give thanks?
Christian theologian Cornelius Plantinga Jr. points out that “It must be an odd feeling to be thankful to nobody in particular.” Can you imagine receiving a gift and not questioning who the giver is? Neither could G. K. Chesterton. As author and Students of Jesus blogger Ray Hollenbach puts it, Chesteron’s life was “forever changed by making the simple connection between his own thankfulness and the necessity of having Someone to thank. He found his way to the Father’s banqueting table by his intense desire to say thank you to whoever was responsible for the wonder of this world.”
Hollenbach adds that Chesterton’s intellect brought “a defiant joy” that led Chesterton to “celebrate the goodness of God wherever he found it—which was everywhere.” Perhaps even in that clear blue sky.
As we prepare our homes and our hearts for thanksgiving, let’s (re)discover a defiant joy that points to Jesus, the Painter of cotton clouds on blue skies and Creator of a cornucopia of wonders. Let us also remember to invite others to join us at His table and dig in.
Wishing you and yours a gratitude-filled Thanksgiving.
30 Thankful Days (November 15th) by Ray Hollenbach. For more from Ray, check out 25 Days of Christmas: A Devotional for Incredibly Busy People, The Impossible Mentor: Finding Courage to Follow Jesus, and his other titles, available on Amazon.
God as Our Shield
The new Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show frequently addresses the issue of what it means to protect people. One character in particular, Grant Ward, takes his role as the team’s “muscle” very seriously and exhibits frustration when unable to guard other team members from things like alien parasites.
The Bible frequently refers to God as a source of protection for His people.
- “God is my shield, saving those whose hearts are true and right.” (Psalm 7:10, NLT)
- “He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.” (Proverbs 2:7, NLT)
- “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.” (Nahum 1:7, NLT)
My mother taught me in times of trouble to picture myself running into a strong tower as a symbol of God’s guardianship over my life. (Thanks to my time in Scotland, I often envision that refuge as Edinburgh Castle.)
I can also look to creation for examples of the Creator’s protection in action. He put shields in place to protect life from the harmful things of the solar system—e.g., Jupiter and company guard Earth from comet collisions while Earth’s magnetic field shields us from deadly solar particles.
But the ultimate example of God’s protection goes much deeper than guarding against physical harm—the saving grace and hope offered through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross shields us from punishment for our sins. This is what I’m most grateful for all through the year.