Happy Dependence Day

Recently our local newspaper included a magazine insert featuring the u pcoming “Holiday” season. I deliberately sandwiched holiday in quotation marks, because political correctness now frowns on the term “Christmas” in public discourse.

Will Thanksgiving follow suit, becoming yet another purely secular holiday?

The magazine insert included several stories of Thanksgiving Day traditions of families here in Central Oregon. Only one of the stories mentioned God. It was more about recipes, football, shopping, and various Black Friday misadventures.

A local contributing editor to the same newspaper shared several reasons why she was thankful. I commend her, because her list was thorough and carefully considered.

But I couldn’t help but notice something missing. Whom was she thanking? Giving thanks requires a minimum of two persons: a grateful party, and the person receiving thanks. That is why we always say, “Thank you.”

It struck me that the secularist and atheist ultimately have no one to thank! If everything in our lives is the product of sheer chance, an arbitrary evolutionary process, then whom do we thank? Who gets the benefit of our overflowing gratitude?

Ultimately, no one at all.Every blessing we enjoy is a gift from somebody. The Christmas presents under the tree with my name on them say who they are from: my wife, my kids, my grandkids. When I receive each gift, I look into the face of a loved one and say, “Why, thank you!” And I mean it. But what about gifts like freedom of worship, a safe home, good health, good friends, laughter, the warmth of a snapping fire on a cold morning or the undeserved prosperity and plenty that so often come my way? Who gets my thanks for these?

God gets my thanks.Every gift He gives me has a label with His name attached in familiar handwriting. James writes: “Don’t be deceived, dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:16-17).

Several years ago I was the speaker at a communitywide Thanksgiving service sponsored by the evangelical churches in Bend. I chose as my topic, “The Declaration of Dependence.” No, that is not a typo. Now mind you, it was a Thanksgiving service, not a Fourth of July celebration.

We Americans, most of us at least, celebrate The Declaration of Independence from the English Crown on the Fourth of July. Thanksgiving Day ought to be our Declaration of Dependence upon God.

Giving thanks is a way of declaring my dependence on Him, confessing and acknowledging Him as the Giver of every good and perfect gift that I enjoy but too often take for granted.

Thanksgiving Day calls me back to the realization that I have been richly and uncommonly blessed by the God of heaven. And the more I realize my utter dependence on Him, the happier I am.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

So what is your response to the concept of declaring our dependence on God this Thanksgiving? Are we as a nation and culture moving away from acknowledging God on Thanksgiving Day?

What tradition does your family observe to keep thanks back in Thanksgiving?

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