Dr. Jackie Minor
The ONE Who Gives
Thanksgiving is a holiday that conjures up warm feelings for me. It isn’t quite as crazy as Christmas, and it represents many things I love – good food, family, cooler temperatures, and fall colors. As educators it is often a time for us to help our students focus on gratitude. It’s not unusual to see bulletin boards decorated with turkey feathers acknowledging all we have to be thankful for. Many teachers use this holiday to choose writing prompts emphasizing thankfulness. Thanksgiving inspires us to focus on the positive.
“What are you thankful for?” That question is posed often at this time in conversations. I would guess some of the most common responses would be family, friends, health, home, work, and money in the bank! No doubt all of us could add to this list. While life may be tough at times and our circumstances less than ideal, there is always something to be thankful for. Why? Because of the ONE who gives! The Bible tell us, “Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all.” (James 1:17)
The truth is everything we have has been given to us. I never want to take blessings for granted. So this Thanksgiving I want to challenge us to go beyond the gifts and focus on the giver. Let’s set aside “what” we have and hone in on “who” we have. Thanksgiving takes on a deeper meaning when we reflect on the ONE who gives.
Identifying all that I am thankful for in terms of my Savior is a bit overwhelming. He truly gives so much, and the more I think about it, the longer my list becomes. As difficult as it is, I am choosing to examine four gifts I have received from the ONE who gives. See if any of these resonate with you.
The One who gives is the Giver of LIFE.
I am thankful God blessed me with life. Each day we are here on this earth is a gift. God placed me in the arms of two Godly, loving parents in a small town in Southwest Kansas. He drew me to Himself at an early age so I could experience new life here and eternal life in the future. None of this was by accident, and none of it was deserved. I am so thankful for life!
The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4
…He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things. Acts 17:25
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:4-5
The One who gives is the Giver of PEACE.
Peace is hard to explain, and we may not think about it unless we have a big decision to make or are faced with a crisis. When the pandemic hit and my husband and I were furloughed, my natural response would have been to panic, but I didn’t. I can’t explain it. I truly feel it was supernatural. I simply felt at peace. There is no doubt in my mind that God’s peace was guarding my heart and my mind (Philippians 4:7). I am so thankful for peace!
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The One who gives is the Giver of LOVE.
I don’t think we will ever fully comprehend the depth of God’s love. The fact that He sent His Son to die on a cross for us so we could be in His presence makes no sense to our logical brains. The Bible clearly states this was an act of love. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Aren’t you glad God loves us despite our shortcomings and failures? The grace and mercy we experience every day is an expression of His love for us (Ephesians 2:4-5).
But there’s more. Not only does God give us love, but he also gives us the capacity to love others! In other words, He loves others through us! This brings glory to Him and enriches our own lives. Love is meant to be shared. I’m so thankful for love!
And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
The One who gives is the Giver of COMPANIONSHIP.
We are wired for relationship. God created us to be in relationship with Him. He wants us to know Him, draw near to Him, pray to Him, and love Him above all else. This is what relationship is all about. How is this possible? There is only one way. When we accept Christ as our Savior, the gift of companionship follows in the form of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
Anne Graham Lotz calls the Holy Spirit “The God who comes along side us.” The Holy Spirit is our counselor, our advocate, our helper, our strengthener, our mediator, and our helper. He is our constant companion. God knew we couldn’t navigate life on our own. As such, He does not let us fend for ourselves. I am so thankful for companionship!
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26
I am so thankful for the ONE who gives life, peace, love, and companionship! Thanksgiving is about so much more than what we have. Take extra time this Thanksgiving to truly reflect on and be thankful for the ONE who gives!