I shall never forget the Thanksgiving at my house on Glenn Drive in Euless, Texas. (And that is pronounced – YOUless – not USEless.) Indeed, the lessons I learned as a brand new single mom in that house were anything but USEless.
Thanksgiving was only three weeks away, and I was a freshly hatched single mother. My heart was devastated that my kids would not be with me but with their dad. I dreaded that day and could not wait for it to be over. Sometimes when we’re struggling, we just want the holiday-hip-hip-hooray to GO AWAY! (Amen?)
So, on this particular Thanksgiving, my extended family voted to gather at my table in YOUless. They thought it’d be good for my spirits, and then after the meal we girls could all go shopping at the mall next to my house. (Shopping? Oh yes, please).
The family descended on my household with food in hand. My job was to decorate the tables. However, I realized in the process that I didn’t have enough chairs. So inside the house came the lawn furniture: torn, stinky, stained, in what I thought was a ghastly disruption to my festive ambiance.
That was over two decades ago; yet, I still remember when the chairs entered the kitchen. I was aghast! Maybe it’s because they represented what felt like my scruffy and tainted life as a single mom. I muffled, Lord, shouldn’t my husband and children be in this household sharing this day – laughing, bonding, sitting on mahogany chairs instead of these tacky ones?
I discovered much the first couple of years of being a single parent without Jason and Sara on that day. I learned that chairs don’t matter and more importantly, the children didn’t either. Thanksgiving was not just about thanks giving (everyone all nestled down in their jovial little families), but about thanks living (offering oneself as a sacrifice in blessing others.) So for the next five years, I joined the people at the homeless shelter (without my children) making that day an official act of worship to God by substituting my pain for His pleasure.
This November, for the first time in TWENTY-FIVE years, I’ll celebrate Thanksgiving with both of my children and their children at my table, and yes, even in mahogany chairs. (I have to chuckle at God and His attention to details!) Yet, the lesson branded deep within is far above that blessing. It is this: God is at work all the time whether we see it, feel it or think it, making everything beautiful in His time.
So what does your Thanksgiving Day look like? Are your circumstances sitting in what feels like disheveled lawn furniture or mahogany wing-backed chairs? Whatever the case, Thanksgiving 2015 offers a unique purpose, one that is not useLESS, but rather useFUL in God’s economy and timing.
We can enter into the Thanksgiving season resting in the bounty of His wonder. Future days will make good use of the broken puzzle pieces of how He works everything together for good.
Psalm 107:1 – In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.