Friday, November 27, 2009

Today, Let Us All Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. In the spirit of the occasion, and since, after all, this is a holiday meant to celebrate thankfulness rather than turkey, football, or shopping, I would like to list the top five things that I am most thankful for today:

1. God's grace, sovereignty, and salvation: Okay, so technically this is three things, but I'm rolling them into one. At a time like this, when I'm scrambling to pick up the pieces and build up my life again, and when I still fight worry and fear of the future on a weekly basis, it is immeasurably comforting to know that God is in control, and that He is still looking out for me.

2. My parents: They have done so much more for me than the mere fact of blood relation has obligated them to. I would undoubtably be homeless at the moment if not for them.

3. Friends and the rest of my family: Friends are family minus the blood ties and desire to aggravate (that was meant to be humorous) and family are friends that you can't escape, who happen to enjoy seeing you squirm. I'm grateful for both - they give me support, and they keep me humble.

4. Liberty University - I can't tell you how much of a relief it was when I found myself about to be fired at any moment and Liberty stepped up to the plate and rushed my admission through without requiring any more paperwork from me. I would have had far less confidence in those last miserable days at Emmanuel "Christian" School had it not been for Liberty accepting me into the graduate program so quickly.

5. Those courageous 102 people who set sail in 1620 with little more than dreams (on a ship that was only 90 feet by 24 feet), and spent a harrowing 66 days at sea, arrived in a foreign land on December 26, lost half of their people to illness and starvation that first winter, and then continued to persevere until they, and those who came before and after, had built a country. There's a lot to be said for that kind of hard work and determination. What sets these 102 people apart from the others, however, is a little document that they drafted upon arrival, which we know of today as the Mayflower Compact:

"In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620."

Have a safe, wonderful holiday, everyone. And please, take a moment to give thanks, even in these hard times. Maybe you could even say a little prayer, before that first mouthful of turkey. God bless you all today.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"