Thanksgiving is in two short days. The to-do lists of chopping, brining, cooking, decorating, and cleaning are lengthy. Sitting down to devise my plan of attack this morning, I decided that the first thing to prepare was my heart. Failing to see my work as an offering of love, I am all too painfully aware that my heart is likely to become filled with something other than thanks. Hence, item one: Number God’s mercies. Fill the heart to overflowing with thanks before doing one other thing.
The list grows of its own accord. My hand can barely keep up with the torrent of grace being poured out before me on the page. Streams of mercy. Rivers of blessing. Fountains of love. But one theme emerges: vast oceans of covenant faithfulness.
Of course, there are the countless material blessings: daily bread, a place to rest my head, every drawn breath, a new home project. Each item jotted down elicits thanks to the Giver. But, there is so much more than daily bread…something greater still that sets my heart into a frenzied, frantic search for a way to express the wild praise that stirs within. Too big for my heart to contain, it leaks out in tears.
Far and away, the greatest blessings have come in the form of other human souls added to our number. I am beginning to know with my heart, and not just my head, the true meaning of God’s covenant faithfulness. “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him…” (Deut. 7: 9a) God is establishing new households, extending his covenant blessings into a new generation. What number generation is this? I long to peer back in time to know where the seed first took root. I long to exchange stories of God’s faithfulness with all those who preceded us and who obeyed the command to teach the ways of God diligently to their children. I long to thank them for their obedience…for the legacy passed on through the ages. I do thank God for them and for His faithful sustaining of their faith. Countless, nameless men and women, I have not forgotten you. Your blood courses through our veins; your faithfulness lives in perpetuity through the promises of the God you trusted and whom you now see face-to-face. And this not only in our own families, but in the families who have been joined to ours through marriage. God’s mercy is too much for my heart to absorb.
I never would have believed that the love I feel for our own children could be expanded to enfold their spouses. Surprise! Just as God’s love extends to successive generations, so does a parent’s love extend to embrace those with whom our children have become one flesh. God has added to us another son and two more daughters. My heart has grown, and my ability to love increased. Each one is precious in unique ways and adds so much to the fabric of our family life. I dearly love them and want to be with them. I want to bless them. I want to make their hearts sing. If that were not enough, just one week ago today, our first grandchild entered the world. As she drew her first breath, I stood in silent awe, tears streaming down my cheeks. And it’s not just that she is a sweet little person who will bring us joy and laughter; it’s what her presence in this world signifies. God is still at work fulfilling His ancient pledge to His people. She represents the faithfulness of God, the faithful obedience of her ancestors, and the future of God’s ever-extending kingdom. Oh, little one! How full of promise, how mighty is your tiny life.
On Thursday, as we enjoy the food my hands will have joyfully prepared out of a heart overflowing with thanks, I will look around the table and thank God for the miracles of grace seated around me. I will thank God for making a people for His Son in times past and in the years to come. I will ask Him to strengthen our resolve to serve Him with gladness in the year to come. I will look forward to the day when I, too, will see in full the breadth of God’s faithfulness that I can now only glimpse in part.
May the words of Isaiah be fulfilled in you, little Olivia, and in all of our grandchildren yet unborn:
“Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.” (Is. 61:9)