Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“Bless this house, O Lord we pray, make it safe by night and day…
Bless these walls so firm and stout, keeping want and trouble out…”
“Bless this House”
Helen Taylor & May Morgan (1927)
Thanksgiving gatherings the way they were meant to be.
That’s how it was with Lynda’s family before, and after, we were married. They were different than the ones I remembered as a child, with too many unpleasant memories of strong drink, lost tempers and arguments, and other bad examples for children, forgetting the real reasons to stop and give thanks. Sometimes there were no Thanksgiving celebrations at all and, although sad, at least there were fewer painful memories.
But Thanksgivings with Lynda and her family were different. Family members and friends gathered together in love and fellowship, and for many it included all-day-long preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. Where extended family gathered, hugs were shared, laughter bounced off the walls of the rooms, children played, and nothing stronger than coffee or tea was served to drink all day long so people remained who they really were.
I suppose as Lynda and I grew closer and then married, I began to embrace her family as my own. It couldn’t be helped actually, where in every corner of every room in every home I found arms waiting to affirm me—not just for that day but for every day—just because I was there.
It was also where I first learned that Lynda’s Mom’s favorite singer was Perry Como who, from the best of my recollection, enshrined the song “Bless this House” as a national and family favorite. Nathan’s Grandma—one of the greatest of Saints now watching us from above—never missed a television show where Perry Como was performing or where he was offering one of his holiday specials.
“Bless the roof and chimneys tall, let Thy peace lie overall…
Bless this door that it may prove, ever open, to joy and love…”
And as we enter this most distinctive of American holiday seasons, we are living in the midst of difficult times—here within this great country and around the world. But perhaps for just a moment, no matter where we find ourselves or what the current state of our country and world, we can allow the words of that song to resonate from our hearts, reflecting an attitude of thankfulness for all that is right with us and this nation and world, and for all those we love and who love us, for the blessings we have, and for an overarching reason for hope through the God who never leaves us.
“Bless these windows shining bright, letting in God’s Heavenly light,
Bless the hearth, the painting there, with smoke ascending like a prayer!”
Maybe you can identify with what a dear friend in south Alabama and I often share, as we catch up on our families—that no matter what may be going on in our lives with all of its ups and downs—if our children and grandchildren are okay—then we’re okay. For that, an attitude of thankfulness reigns within our hearts and homes.
“Bless the folk who dwell within, keep them pure and free from sin…“
I don’t know all that’s going on in your lives at the moment, but I’ll bet if you’re anything like me, you’ve had your share of valleys to walk through lately. Between the economy, jobs lost and careers threatened, family issues, relationships and the deep blue sea—you can’t seem to catch a glimpse of the sunshine which you have heard was out there somewhere.
Well, why don’t you and I this week take the time to stop, and to climb back up on the mountaintop, and take a moment to remember and reflect on all the blessings of our lives? Perhaps this week—this Thanksgiving week—we could try something different. Perhaps, instead of dwelling on the things we’re struggling with in the valley, we could change our perspective and make a list of all the blessings and things we should be thankful for in our lives.
May I suggest we begin the list with the basics, all the things for which you and I are thankful for everyday—you woke up this morning, your bride, your husband, the health you have left, your children and grandchildren, the family dog (or cat, hermit crab(s), or whatever), a paycheck, food on the table, the wrinkled smile of an older and loyal friend, a precious Goddaughter who just celebrated her thirty-sixth birthday, a phone call of caring which comes when you need it most, an unexpected hug, a beautiful sunset.
And that’s just the beginning of a list of blessings that we’ll soon discover will never end. You had better gather a couple of sheets of paper as you begin, for you will soon see as you begin to reflect and record all those things you are thankful for—that the list will grow as the sunshine begins to break through the clouds which had previously covered your day.
And as you and I go through that Thanksgiving list, perhaps we’ll begin to weave a perspective for life similar to the one the boy and man in this story understood.
It’s a simple story of a young boy on his way home from school late one day. It was cold outside and snow was on the ground with more falling around him as he walked. It was around dinner time and he needed to hurry home. But then a light through the cracked glass of the window of a little broken-down shack along the side of the road caught his eye. And so, forgetting about dinner for the moment, he cautiously made his way up to the window of that little shack, and what he saw stunned him—took him back for just a moment.
For what that little boy saw was a scene of abject poverty, of a frame wooden cot and tattered blanket, a small wooden table and one chair, and a small wooden bowl half-filled with some sort of broth. And on the wall—a picture of Jesus—and kneeling below that picture—a man in tattered clothes, with worn and wrinkled hands and the years of a difficult life written all over his face.
As the boy moved closer to the window, he could hear the words of that kneeling man—and he’d never forget those words. For amidst all of that apparent poverty, amidst the presence of the bleak and wintry day, all he heard coming from the walls of that shack were the mumbled words of that kneeling man…
“Thank you, Lord, thank you…
Thank you, Lord, thank you…
Thank you, Lord, thank you. Amen.”
Upon first glance, it may have seemed as though that man was walking in what seemed to be a desperate valley. And by the standards of our society he was. But those standards are not what governs the days and abundant blessings of our lives.
For you see, that man walked to the beat of his Creator. His list of the things he was thankful for was not written on a piece of paper, but was written instead all over the walls of a humble heart seeking to serve the God who created him. A God who walked with and never left him, and who would be with him in the blinding snows of winter, and the scorching heat of summer. A God who would be with him in every day and throughout eternity.
Did you put that on your list of things you’re thankful for? A relationship with the God who will never leave you? A relationship with the God of all creation, through His Son Jesus Christ? If you did, was it first on your list? If you didn’t, I would encourage you to make this the week you stop, and think about that relationship, and make it a part of your life—a life with Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Like that humble man. Like Lynda’s Mom and Dad. It is the most important relationship you will ever be blessed with—now and forever.
“Bless us all that we may be, fit O Lord to dwell with Thee…
Bless us all that one day we may dwell, O Lord! With Thee!”
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, dear family and friends.
May this be a day of reflection on the blessings of our lives which are showered on us in abundance from Above.
And may this Thanksgiving time be not only a time to reflect upon the things we are thankful for, but also one of an eternal commitment to the God who knows you best, loves you most, and who will always walk with you and ahead of you.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2011. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.