Thanksgiving is an intentional holiday. The date is arbitrary, set through history finally by FDR as the 4th Thursday in November. The narrative of the historical events are being reevaluated in the court of public opinion. There are no heroes or sheroes that most of us remember, perhaps Squantos. In fact we know little about the original event although we have built up historical narrative about it, created school plays starring our beloved children, written poems, and sang songs. As much as Thanksgiving being “inspirational” and marking the turn to the Christmas season, it is an “intentional” event when we try to slow down, focus on family and friends, and cultivate an attitude of gratitude for the blessings in our life. That can be hard and painful for many.
Intentional means to me that I set my will to do something, not because of the rewards or because of my feelings but because I know somewhere in my being that forcing myself to slow down and thank, is good for me and for the world around me. Those early pilgrims set their wills to leave the known and step into the unknown. The early settlers put all their goods in a wagon and headed West. The first astronauts stepped into space machines trusting them to take them to the moon and back. Each day we step into our futures with no guarantee of the outcome but committed to the adventure of the day.
One of the beautiful foundational beliefs of the Christian narrative is the intentionality of a God determined to bless his creation and rescue us from ourselves. Each day the sun rises, not because we are good and deserve it but because nature speaks to a guiding presence many are unwilling to recognize. Paul tells us in Romans 5:8, “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” John says almost the same thing in 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” If we choose to love God because of benefits, that is understandable, but his intentional involvement in our lives is voluntary. He could have set the clock running and walked away. He could sit far off and laugh at our mistakes and let us undermine ourselves. Thanksgiving is a time when we remember that God intentionally involves himself in our lives as we are willing and ready and is the Good Shepherd, perhaps Good Farmer, leading us to the fruitful harvest. I’m glad he cares for me and for you. I pray you are intentionally developing a relationship with God! Blessings as you prepare for Thanksgiving.