Thanksgiving Reflections

When our pilgrim forefathers stepped off the Mayflower onto American soil, little did they realize the greatness of what would result from their efforts. They were committed to a dream: establishing a land of religious freedom in a world far too prone to religious intolerance, but one day that dream would far surpass their initial expectations. Their bravery and commitment should awaken within us the passion to dream for even greater things in our day—lifting this nation to the next level of purpose and destiny.

Whenever God stirs vision in the hearts of His people, there is always a price to pay for its fulfillment—and sometimes, that involves far more than anyone would expect. So it was with the pilgrims. At one point, their rations got so low, they were reduced to eating five kernels of corn a day. But when many of them were dying from malnutrition and the cold, the dream was kept alive in their hearts, fueled by prayerfulness and passion for the purpose of God.

The rest of the story shows how God got in the details—in amazing ways. Many years prior, Squanto the Indian had been carried away to Spain to be sold as a slave, but was taken in by some friars and taught the Christian faith. He ended up in England, working with a shipbuilder, and there he learned the English language.

Though he surely did not understand the importance of this phase of his life, later on, by divine intervention, he would be positioned at the right place at the right time to rescue God’s people. Samoset, an Indian leader, first befriended the pilgrims, stunning them by walking up to their settlement and greeting them in English. Then he introduced them to Squanto, who became their interpreter, taught them the ways of the land, and along with Samoset, introduced them to Massasoit, the local Indian chief.

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A year later came the first Thanksgiving with its abundant provision. The table was spread with a sumptuous feast. But everything stalled, when a plate was placed before each of the pilgrims containing only five kernels of corn. Reverently, worshipfully, thankfully—the Puritans ate those kernels one by one—in the remembrance of the difficult place from which God had rescued them and in honor of those who perished.

We should do something very similar this Thanksgiving. Before rushing into the time of feasting we should enumerate all the ways God’s grace has “brought us safe thus far.”

And we should consider the following truths:

  • The value of pressure—The reason the pilgrims came to the new world was an attempt to escape the persecution they were suffering against their faith. Pressure like this is often used by God to push us into taking bold and innovative steps we otherwise might never make.
  • The power of divine involvement—Looking at the huge population of the United States now and its influence in the world, it is hardly believable that all of this began with a handful of committed Christians in Massachusetts and a few other colonies. Great things often have small beginnings, for “Little is much if God is in it.”
  • The subtlety of divine guidance—Few know that the pilgrims were initially headed for Virginia where they had already contracted for a tract of land. But a fierce storm drove them ‘off-course,’ many miles up the Eastern seaboard. Little did they know, however, that the Indian tribes in Virginia had made up their minds to slaughter any settlers that set foot on their soil (understandably). Furthermore, the tribes up and down the coast had agreed to do the same. A plague had recently struck down the Indian tribe in the Plymouth Bay area, that was so swift and severe, other tribes felt it was the curse of God and would not re-inhabit the land. When the Plymouth Bay Company landed, unknown to them, they were settling in the only area on the coast where they could escape an Indian attack. Sometimes when we think we are ‘off-course,’ we may very well be ‘on-course,’ for there is a divine hand guiding us.
  • The danger of becoming comfortable in former victories—As the Plymouth Bay Colony developed, an unsettling event happened. The elected officials of the community decided to use some of their funds to build a road three miles west into the wilderness. The people angrily rose up against this decision and almost dismissed their leaders. They felt it would be a senseless waste. Besides, they felt would never need a road going three miles into the woods. Little did they know that one day there would be paved, asphalt roads stretching three thousand miles to the west. After having such a bold vision to cross an entire ocean on an unseaworthy vessel, they had no zeal to go a few miles further. They lost their vision to advance to greater things. May that never happen to us!

Think about these things as you chart your journey through life! God is with you! He still moves in miraculous and mysterious ways! Be thankful for breaths you took while reading this article and give praise to the Breathgiver for another day!

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Mike Shreve
Mike Shreve has traveled globally since 1971 as an evangelist and Bible teacher. His passion is to see authentic New Testament Christianity manifested in the earth. He has authored 14 books, including a comparison of over 20 religions titled, "In Search of the True Light," and his most recent, "WHO AM I?," an enlightening study of 52 names God has given His people. He and his wife, Elizabeth, reside in Cleveland, Tennessee.

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