I was surprised the other day to learn that (some) public schoolers were taught the reason for the first Thanksgiving celebration was to thank the Indian's for their assistance in helping them to grow food. In actuality, this is only a minor reason, though I am sure they were immensely grateful to them.
Do you know the real reason? Do you know why the Pilgrims made the huge decision to leave their homes and friends and families and life that was familiar to them to travel miles across the sea to a place none of them had seen?
This is very important, and as Americans we have a responsibility to know the truth about our country's origin.
Now I don't intend to give a history lesson, though personally, that would be fun. No, I want to plainly state why we celebrate Thanksgiving each year.
Times were getting tough for Christians in England and they found more and more of their religious freedom being take away from them. Instead of compromise their beliefs, they decided to stand by their values and take desperate measures. Many would lose their lives because of this decision, and I'm sure they knew this was a possibility. But losing your life for what you believe in was more important to them then a comfortable life of compromise. Can we say the same?
The trip over the sea was rife with disaster and trial. The devil surely did not want this group of believers succeeding in their godly mission. But God brought them to the land they sought.
We can't comprehend how difficult it was for them that first year struggling to survive. Not with our grocery stores only miles away and the internet at our fingertips, our civilization and convenient living where anything you want you can buy. Try imagining living somewhere where there was no hospital, no stores, no lumber yard or construction workers for building homes. It's not a pleasant thought.
When the Indians offered to help the Pilgrims were grateful students. But they knew that the source of their success was God and God alone. He protected this remnant of His people in the same way He did for the Israelites centuries before. Because they loved Him and pledged to serve Him, but mostly because He loved them.
The decision to have a grand feast in celebration was an overflow of their grateful hearts for the One who had made it possible. They invited the Indians to share with them not only the food they had but the truth they had as well. That God made us all with His perfect love, and sacrificed Himself for our eternal security.
The Thanksgiving "story" is about God's ability to create something amazing from a few willing followers. He promises to bless those who trust Him. Imagine what He could do in our lives if we surrendered completely!
When we get together each year for another feast reminiscent of the first we are saying as the Pilgrims did, "We have come this far not on our own, but because of God's blessing!"
We are blessed! It's worth remembering.