Wednesday, November 23

Thanksgiving and Freedom

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. --Psalm 95:1-3

This Thursday, millions of people will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. To the non-Christian, this day is little more than a kick-off to the holiday season, a short vacation from work, or a long weekend filled with NFL games and huge sales at the malls. To Christians, however, Thanksgiving is more than just a large meal followed by a nap on the couch. It is a time to reflect on God's provision for His people, particularly the way He protected and provided for the first colonists to settle in this country.

What I find quite interesting about the origins of our country is that, in order to experience freedom, one of the first things the occupants of the Mayflower did was establish a framework for how they were going to live. Governor William Bradford wrote the words below in 1606 as part of the Mayflower Compact. Before he and the others had even set foot on solid ground, they signed their names in agreement with the following:

"...for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor 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 politic, 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."

This country was founded with the distinct purpose of advancing the Christian faith. This means not only sharing their faith with others, but by growing in their own personal relationships with God by living a life obedient to His will and calling. I believe strongly that the colonists' survival through the harsh first winter was a testimony to how God preserves His people. Without God, our country would not be the great nation that it is today.

I am thankful to live where I can worship freely. I am thankful for the daily opportunities I have to share my faith with others. I am thankful for God's continued involvement in my life, even when I have been forced to withstand harsh winters in my spiritual life. Most of all I am thankful for the freedom I have been given through the gift of God's grace. Because of His mercy, I am freed from the tyrannical reign of sin in my life and its effects. I look forward to living the rest of my life as a pilgrim, always mindful of my eternal home in heaven.

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