This is a few days late, but utterly necessary. Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year. Its’ only rival is New Years, in which the two main ingredients of family and food also abounds. This year, as is customary for the past 4 years, the meeting place was at my aunt’s house in Reading, Pennsylvania. After spending Thursday morning managing my food intake so that I may be prepared for the feast that evening, I was glad for the driving abilities of my youngest brother, who turned a 4 hour drive into 3. The details will remain sketchy. Surely, you understand (smile).
When we got there, everyone had already eaten. This did not detour any of us from the joy we had as we partake in one of the best meals we’ve had since January 2. That night, as is beginning to be my custom for that day, I stayed up till 4 in the morning watching movies — not recommended during regular work/school hours. After going to sleep at 4, I got up around 10 to an almost empty house since most had gone off to see what the stores were offering. It was the perfect time to sit and reflect on what one is thankful about.
I am thankful for God who is not only creator but sustainer of life. In the last devotional message of the year — in which I dealt with the believer’s past, present, and future — I shared with the youths in my church the necessity for the existence of God. This can all be summarized in one of Jesus’ I am statements: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6 NKJV). Thus, if the life-giver ceases to be then those who are living, or have life, ceases to be. However, though the word ζωή is the Greek that is used in the septuagint to signify the life that was given at creation to both man and beast (Gen. 1:30 and 2:7), some may remain unconvinced.
Paul, who has plenty to say concerning Christ as creator, sheds further light on this issue. In Colossians 1:17, Paul says that Christ is “before all things, and in Him all things consist.” “The form of the verb [consist — συνέστηκεν] in Greek stresses an original organization and a continued maintenance of the organization” (Nichol). Without Christ to continue holding the pieces that He placed together, they will not remain that way. We can’t ignore the fact that He does this for those who are with Him and against Him.
Furthermore, God so loved the world that He gave Jesus to die in place of it. This is also done in light of His foreknowledge that many of us would not choose Him. He could have been selective and offer the sacrifice for those that He knew were going to accept it. He could have went in another direction and not have given the sacrifice at all. However, move by love, God acted and thus we are offered the opportunity to be as we ought to be, Christ-like.
No opportunity to reflect on whom one is thankful for can pass without reflections on parents. Though parents may not have set out to give birth to us at the time we arrive, or were even happy to hear that we were coming, there should still be gratitude. For one, they could have had an abortion. However, they chose to partake in the divine call to parenthood. Thus, I am here and so are you. They are worthy of respect just because they are parents. It doesn’t matter if they have done anything worthy of it or not. God did not set a prerequisite for parental honor in Exodus 20:12. Instead, a blessing is announced for those that do.
I now turn my thoughts to influential individuals in my life. Most of them will remain nameless because upon my analysis of their personalities, I have realized that they are somewhat private and don’t like too much attention. I’m thankful for the many instructors that I’ve had growing up in my local church community. Perhaps they weren’t aware of the impact of what they were doing at the time, but God did. The fact that I am still in the church has a lot to do with their influence during those early days.
I’m thankful for a professor by the name of Dr. Ojwang who allowed me to think freely. He never shut down our ideas but allow us to reason them out to their conclusions. His biblical knowledge and language skills were so inspiring that I think he may be the one that influenced my wanting to be an Old Testament theologian. Most of all, I hold him in high regards for his gentleness. He is truly a “nice guy.” I heard that he played soccer with some of the students. Though it was not my sport, I was almost compelled to join.
I must also mention Dr. Benjamin and Dr. Jesse Wilson. I had Dr. Benjamin in my first semester for hermeneutics. This makes him my first theology teacher. Though he is truly a scholar, my relationship with him started because of the warmth that came from him. Dr. Benjamin was always smiling and always positive. It’s impossible to forget his trademark greeting, “peace, peace my brothers.” The ring of the English accent with those words made it ever more memorable. I also had the opportunity to work with him at his local church and that deepened my relationship with him.
I only had one class with Dr. Jesse Wilson, but who can forget the man. Out of all the professors I’ve met, he is by far the most happiest. He is always upbeat, always positive, and always joking. These type of characteristics made being around him an extreme joy. In his class I learned what it really meant to be in the trenches of evangelism; how to analyze what works and what doesn’t. His insights in this area were astonishing.
So there you have it. This is not a complete listing of what I am thankful for but it will do for the time being. What are you thankful for and why?