Food for Thought

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Try saying that five times fast.

Obviously, that’s just a bunch of gibberish, the result of my drumming my fingers over a series of keys as I try to figure out what to write. Or rather, how to begin. I already know basically what I would like to say, but coming up with an interesting, eye-catching, attention-grabbing introduction is always a challenge. And today, it seems pretty clear that I am failing miserably at it. But you are apparently still reading, so I guess I must be doing something right.

You see, I knew when I started this post that I wanted to talk about Thanksgiving. But if you attended a public or private school in the American educational system at any point in your academic career, you’ve already heard all there is to know about Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims held its inaugural celebration in 1621 to show their gratitude and joy at surviving the devastating first year in Massachusetts Bay. The Native Americans brought along deer and other food to the feast; they ate together and enjoyed God’s blessings. Then 142 years later, during the height of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln made this tradition into an official American holiday in his Thanksgiving Proclamation on October 3, 1863. Today this holiday is enjoyed across the country as people consume ungodly amounts of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie while watching back-to-back-to-back games of football. Thus, Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday.

All that being said, I really do like Thanksgiving. Although it’s not my favorite holiday by any means (Independence Day holds that honor), I certainly love everything it entails: getting together with family, eating lots of delicious food (and pretending that my dad’s annual “I wave my hand and thereby remove all calories from this food” so-called magic trick actually works), and pausing to reflect on all of life’s blessings. All in all, Thanksgiving is good, and I am thankful for it. Really, I am.

But just like coming up with a creative introduction, figuring out something insightful and meaningful to say about Thanksgiving is rather challenging. Just like all the fun historical facts about Thanksgiving (fun for me as a history major, at least), you already know all the important things about this holiday: being thankful for God’s innumerable, undeserved blessings and reaching out to those who are less fortunate. I could go on and on about how important these are, and though it would be worthwhile and you might gain something from it, I might lose the attention that I worked so hard with my gibberish to gain. And so, I am going to forego the discussion of the usual Thanksgiving themes to try a different approach. I’m not sure how it will turn out, so humor me for a minute. Or a few minutes, rather. You know how I ramble.

Okay, here goes…

How about we thank God for simply being God?

Yes, that seems really basic or maybe even a bit counterintuitive, but work with me here. Have you ever taken a moment and thought about Who God is and what that really means? And if you have ever taken that moment, when was the last time you did? To be entirely honest, this is not an activity that occurs to me often and, when it does, I doubt that I usually act upon it. So how about you and I, right now, on this Thanksgiving holiday, pause for a second to reflect on who God is and then express gratitude for it. Are you with me? Good. Let’s continue.

So we want to thank God for God. But what exactly does that mean? Well, seeing that I am just an amateur, wanna-be theologian, I don’t have an expert strategy or game plan for making that happen. But I do have one possible way to go about it.

I’ve blogged about my mom a few times, but she really doesn’t appear in my writing as often as she deserves. So today is her lucky day. Mama, you are getting your own official shout-out. Hope you like it! 🙂 Among her many admirable—and sometimes slightly idiosyncratic—tendencies is my mother’s propensity for garage-saling. She truly has a knack for finding the best bargains at the lowest prices, all in the neighbor’s front yard. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Or in this case, a “woman’s treasure,” and that woman is my mother.

Last summer (during peak garage-sale season), my mom purchased what I believe to be one of the best investments. For the negligible price of one dollar, she bought a framed collection of the Hebrew names of God with their English translations. Each one is used at least one place in the Bible by God Himself or people writing about Him. Cool, eh?

As I said, I am not an expert on God, but I believe that if we really want to appreciate Who God is and have true, sincere gratitude for what He has done for us, then we first have to know who He is. That means having a grasp on His character and nature. And I think that God gives us a glimpse of that via His names. Once you read them, you’ll have a better idea of what I mean. Here they are:

Yahweh: LORD Jehovah
El Shaddai: The All-Sufficient One
Jehovah-Nissi: The LORD is my Banner
Jehovah-Jireh: The LORD will Provide
Jehovah-Shalom: The LORD is Peace
El Elyon: The Most High God
Jehovah-Tsidkenu: The LORD our Righteousness
Jehovah-Rapha: The LORD that Healeth
Adonai: Lord
El Olam: The Everlasting God
Jehovah Sabaoth: The LORD of Hosts
Jehovah-Mekod-Dishkem: The LORD who sanctifies
Jehovah-Shammah: The LORD is There
Elohim: Creator
Jehovah-Raah: The LORD is my Shepherd

Wow.

If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to read that list without being blown away. And if you weren’t blown away on the first reading, take a second to read it through one or two more times and really think about it. Or better yet, read it aloud. Then see how you feel.

God is awe-striking. He is so worthy of all the glory, honor, and praise—of everything. Yet in our day-to-day life, it’s so easy to forget about Him, about Who He really is. How do we manage to overlook the most significant Being in the universe? I don’t have an answer to that question because, to tell the truth, I do it the most often. As backwards and confused and messed up as it is, I do it all the time. But right now, starting with today, I am going to try to change that. And what more appropriate day to do that than on Thanksgiving?

I challenge you today to join me. In the midst of all the turkey-eating and general face-stuffing, take a moment and reflect on what God has done for you and, moreover, on who He is. And when that moment of reflection is up, take a second moment and thank Him—truly thank Him from the bottom of your gravy-covered heart—for Who He is. I have a feeling that you’ll be glad you did.

And with that, I wish you a very “Flusavfnjb3e Ghrfunvetuhgveen,” which is gibberish for “Happy Thanksgiving!” God bless. 😉

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