My wife couldn't read faraway signs when she was driving. That was my job. I'm farsighted. She was nearsighted. Until we went driving on a long trip. Suddenly she was reading everything. And noticing scenic details she'd missed before.
She'd just had Lasik surgery! Suddenly she was seeing things she'd never seen before.
That's what thanksgiving does - helps you see things you may have never seen before - or you need to see again. Not thanksgiving, the holiday. Thanksgiving, the lifestyle. Thanksliving, I call it.
For those Pilgrims, it was a secret of their survival. Kneeling to thank God after a violent storm at sea. When they stepped on land. After a deadly winter. After that first life-saving harvest.
Even after losing half of their number the first winter. One writer said: "The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these, who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."
There is power in giving thanks. And Thanksgiving week is a good time to check our GQ. Our Gratitude Quotient. Because...
Thanksliving restores hope.
When no answer is in sight. When the mountain is too massive to move. When you're running on empty. Discouraged. Afraid.
That's when thanksliving eyes choose to look up rather than looking around. After seeing his whole world literally leveled, God's prophet Jeremiah said, "I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall...my soul is downcast within me."
Then, the tide starts to turn. "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:19-23). When you remember God's track record of faithfulness through every valley of the past, the lifeblood of hope starts pumping again.
He's been there every step of the way. And He is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews l13:8). As "Amazing Grace" says: "Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. 'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."
Thanksliving warms relationships.
Starting with the people around your Thanksgiving table. It's easy to think of the things about them that irritate and frustrate us. But the "Lasik" of thankfulness will help you see something else - things about that person you're thankful for. Their strengths, not just their weaknesses.
When you tell them what you appreciate about them, it does something in their heart. Because almost nobody does that. And when you write it to them, they have it on their dark day.
It's obeying God's directive to "not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building others up" (Ephesians 4:29). In the slightly-modified words of the children's cartoon friend, Bob the Builder, "Can we build them? Yes, we can!"
And don't wait. My precious Karen is in heaven now. So I can't tell her all those things I love about her. Tell them while you can.
Thanksliving brings God close.
As you become a God-watcher, you sense His closeness as never before. At our house, we talked about the day's "God-sightings" around the dinner table. He's all over your day - if you're looking for Him. That encouraging text, the parking place, a child's hug, a "just for me" Bible verse, a beautiful sunrise, a good night's sleep.
Your Father's love, expressed through little daily "goodnesses." Reminding us that "we are His people, the sheep of His pasture." So, "enter His gates with thanksgiving" (Psalm 100:3-4).
For me, my giving thanks always seems to begin and end at the same place. The hill. Where the Prince of Glory loved me so much that He died for me. Where the Father I had dissed and ignored ran to meet me to welcome me Home. To be with Him forever. And everything looks different when I view it through His cross.
That's where I remember how I'm loved. What I'm worth. Why I'm safe, no matter what I face. And that this earth-pilgrim is made for eternity. And every day is Thanksgiving.