As we are taking time this special Thanksgiving Season to be thankful for friends, for family, for our own good health, and to Almighty God for His Wonderful Blessings, there is another very important someone to be thankful to, and one important Thanksgiving lesson to be learned.
Every time I find myself reading the true account of that first Thanksgiving celebration by the pilgrims I am taken aback by those simple people and the not-so-simple obstacles that they had to overcome to even survive and to help grow us our America. And today, amidst all of our thankfulness, we need to be thankful to all of those Americans who have gone before us - who helped give us our great nation.
You see, most always, good things don't come by accident or good luck - most good things are made to happen, and they start with a quest, a vision. The Bible says that "Where there is no vision, the people perish", and it is truly those dreams and aspirations and desires for a better life, a better America, that keep us going forward to make it better.
Some today in America seem to have given up on that vision. But the best words we can hear today are the words of Pilgrim John Winthrop. All that time ago, hundreds of years ago, when America had not even been formed yet, all the way back in the early 1600's, John Winthrop was the governor of that small band of Pilgrim settlers.
Now, think about this - Winthrop and the others there didn't even know if they would survive, they had no crystal ball telling them what would happen to a future America, but John Winthrop did have a vision for America, and he believed that it was up to them to help make it happen. This is what John Winthrop said all of those years ago:
"Now the only way to provide for our posterity is to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. We must delight in each other; make others' conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people. For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present Help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world."
These are powerful words, and two of our U.S. Presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, both saw Winthrop's vision,and even more, they both saw our responsibility as Americans -
- To conduct ourselves, our nation, in such a way that we become a shining example to the world,
- To be a city on a hill, a shining beacon of light, leading others in the way.
- To rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together;
- To invite God as our Lord to dwell among us,
- To lead us, and
- To be thankful.
But how does it all happen? How do we be this shining example, this beacon of light leading others in the way? Can we do it by enacting more laws, collecting more taxes, and spending more money? Do we do it by more education and government programs? Absolutely not - none of those are the foundation to help make us a better nation.
No, bettering our America begins with you and me - in our hearts. We must realize that we truly are all in this together - and each of us must carry our part of the load.
By the way we conduct our own lives.
So, this season, this Thanksgiving Season,
- let us all not seek to have more to be thankful for; instead,
- let us seek to be more thankful for what we do have.
Dear Lord, help us this day to see the vision, to be that shining example, to praise you,and to be thankful.