A couple of years ago I read Robert McKenzie’s, The First Thanksgiving. Not only is the book a helpful historical account, it is also instructive on how to think rightly about history. As we prepare to enjoy what we call “Thanksgiving” tomorrow, McKenzie’s concluding reflections are helpful. He wrote:
Above all, I think that meditating on the Pilgrims’ story might show us our worldliness…From our privileged perspective, the Pilgrims lived in abject poverty. Imagining ourselves in their circumstances may help us to see more clearly the sheer magnitude of pleasure and possessions that we take for granted as well as the power that they hold over our lives.
But for many of us the seductiveness of the world is more subtle than Madison Avenue’s message of hedonism and materialism. God has surrounded us with countless blessings that he “is glad for us to enjoy”: loving relationships, rewarding occupations, beautiful surroundings. Yet in our fallenness, we are tempted to convert such foretastes of eternity into ends in themselves, numbing our longing for God and causing us to “rest our hearts in this world.” Here is where the Pilgrims speak to me loudly. It is not their poverty that I find most convicting, but their hope of heaven. (pgs. 192-193)
In reading this, I was reminded of a quote from Jonathan Edwards:
To go to Heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the ocean. (quoted in, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, pg. 128)
As we give thanks, let’s truly enjoy the gifts and let them lead us to the Giver. May the Lord help us to rightly order our affections.