No doubt you heard this phrase several times during the past week – “Have a Happy Thanksgiving!” But did you stop to ask yourself, “What does it take to make a Thanksgiving Day happy?” It most certainly is not the turkey and pumpkin pie, nor the anticipation of “Black Friday” (although Nancy is a bit jealous that she missed it, after seeing all Morgan’s deals!). It’s not even the family and friends that surround the table… or not.
Can I tell you what made our Thanksgiving Day happy? Actually, to be quite honest, there wasn’t much in the day that provoked a happy feeling. Nancy was at Stellenbosch University from 9 am to 5 pm for her TEFL course (which is going very well – thanks for praying!) and Tom was in his office all day studying for Sunday’s first Advent service on Hope. Our Thanksgiving Day evening started with a nice ostrich fillet dinner, fresh from the grill. Yummy (summertime here)! The day was looking up at that point and we started chatting back and forth about what we were thankful for.
On the church side, one thing we are thankful for is the 100% vote of approval from last Sunday calling the new Associate Pastor, Lönngren Taljaard, to Mountain View. He and his family will move from Johannesburg to Cape Town in January and our church is very excited. Many of you prayed for the vote and we are thankful for your support too!
We are also thankful for the growth we’ve seen at Mountain View, not only in numbers but in the lives of people. We’ve seen many new visitors recently. Since the women’s conference, Hope and Help for the Journey, Nancy has been teaching a ladies Bible study called “One Thousand Gifts” on Sunday nights and her group has grown from 13 to 26.
This past Wednesday evening we had our annual Christmas Dinner for the prayer team at Mountain View that meets on Wednesday nights throughout the year. We spent time sharing testimonies of the answers to prayer we had experienced personally and in the church during 2013. Tom used this verse for his devotional, “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” (2 Cor. 4:15)
Maybe it was Tom’s devotional from Wednesday night that prepared our hearts for the phone call we received from Morgan, just after our Thanksgiving meal, telling us she’d had a car accident on her way to her sister’s house. We were so thankful Morgan was not injured. (Too bad we can’t say the same about her car!) We were also thankful the other driver had insurance. Actually, after thinking it through, we could see several reasons to be thankful for the way God provided even though the accident caused some frustration and heartache – not the Happy Thanksgiving Day any of us were wanting or expecting.
Come to think of it (without whining), Nancy and I’ve had a few trials since we updated our blog in October. One was the unexpected flooding near our home, which caused the government to label our suburb a disaster area. Thankfully we didn’t experience any serious damage at our home or the church (just leaks and a flooded garage). The second, and probably the most concerning, was that Tom’s dad experienced a heart attack which required open heart surgery. We are thankful that he survived and is recovering well. It could have been a much different story.
Back to Tom’s devo as we close; the “it” in 2 Cor. 4:15 refers to suffering and affliction and, according to this verse, “it” can always be a source of increased thanksgiving, to the glory of God. At the end of our Thanksgiving Day we went to bed — no turkey or pumpkin pie, no family around the table, no major shopping deals to be had the next day…. just a renewed assurance that God is good and He is faithful… at all times… and we were filled to the brim with thanksgiving! Mindboggling how a less than perfect day can still bring about an overwhelming sense of God’s blessing and immense care for us. You know what that feels like too. Aren’t we glad for opportunities to give thanks, and in the end, honour God?