The first Thanksgiving in America was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. The feast lasted three days, and, as testified by attendee Edward Winslow, it was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims. The Bible says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34). That journey of thanksgiving continues on this Thanksgiving Day.
Jacob expressed his thanksgiving to God upon the end of an exciting journey (Genesis 29). As Jacob was a Pilgrim in a foreign land, the Pilgrims of the New World walked a similar journey, filled with expressions of thanksgiving.
Max Lucado writes, “A journey is a journey, whether the destination be the Thanksgiving table or the heavenly one.”
When I think of the journey of thanksgiving, I think of our many family vacations. As with the earliest Pilgrims, America was a New World to our son on these multiple and diverse pilgrimages – to the Colorado mountains, Big Bend National Park, Grand Canyon, or Smoky Mountains National Park.
Those long car rides with a young Pilgrim in the back seat of our car provide a parable on the thanksgiving journey of faith. As I consider the journeys we took with our son and the journey of the Christian life, I see similarities:
1. In order to reach our destination, we have to say no to a few interruptions.
2. Children have no concept of minutes or miles.
3. Children can’t envision the reward at the end of the journey.
4. The journey is worth it.
“Are we there, yet?” That simple question rings in the ears of parents everywhere. On family vacations and other journeys of life, we lose focus. Too many stops along the way delay a wonderful destiny. Too many glances at the watch or odometer means missing the scenery out the car window. Too many questions means missing the Answer – and sometimes the reward.
Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. But not only today. Life is a journey – and Thanksgiving is a journey as well.
Enjoy your turkey today. Overdose on televised football. As you save some space for pumpkin pie in your belly and the Christmas tree in your living room, remember to save a little space to thank the One who made it all possible. And as you trudge the journey of life, never forget the answer to every child, young and old. When they ask, “Are we there yet?” you tell them, “No, not yet. Relax and enjoy the journey. We will be there when the time is right. Until then, may we give thanks for the journey.”
The journey we know is bested only by the destination we can only imagine.
Thank God – today and always.