As I celebrate Thanksgiving this year, like many of you, I am taking special time to show God my gratefulness for His provision, both spiritually and naturally. I remember Thanksgivings from my childhood when I did not fully understand the concept of provision and having all of my physical needs met. I really wasn't cognizant of how blessed my family was to have a table spread with abundant food and my favorite, the golden roasted turkey, in the center. I looked forward to stuffing myself with my mother's cornbread dressing, and I'm pretty sure that I was the only kid in my neighborhood who loved cranberry sauce. I bet God finds it humorous that now, as an adult, I have the mindset that I must earn those extra carbs with rigorous workouts. He's probably winking at me because I have already scheduled at least six hours of power walking for this week to compensate for my plentiful helpings of mac and cheese.
Power walking has actually been my personal time of reflection for thanksgiving throughout the year, and most days when I walk, I observe a basic spiritual truth of God's natural provision by watching house sparrows. Back in June, I saw a brown and gray house sparrow hopping along a moderately sized patch of grass on a sidewalk that leads to a regional library branch in my community. This little bird was digging through the surface and looking for pests to feed on. In its unremitting search, the bird was rewarded with a huge earthworm for its morning meal. It grasped the earthworm's head in its beak and struggled to fly across the street with the earthworm dangling and trying to wiggle free. Once the bird safely landed, it proceeded to devour its prey in what would be the equivalent of a breakfast buffet for us.
A few days later, when reflecting on what I had seen, I thought about diligence in addition to provision. In the Word of God, diligence is often ascribed to the meticulousness of ants (Proverbs 6:6-8), and in the New Testament, Jesus uses birds to illustrate God's divine provision for His children. "Behold the fowls of the air," Jesus told the multitudes in Matthew 6:26, pointing out that birds do not sow, reap or "gather into barns" but that God tenderly feeds them. "Are ye not much better than they?" Jesus pointedly asked. With the house sparrow that I saw, however, it was not just about basic provision. This bird was not satisfied with what was at the surface of the ground, most likely a few insects that would have been a tasty snack. Earthworms are known to burrow in soil and are forced to the surface when it rains. It wasn't raining that day, and that sparrow definitely wanted more than a small bite to eat.
I'm definitely going to eat a lot this Thanksgiving. I'm truly appreciative to be able to dine sufficiently, but in reminiscing about that sparrow, I need to take that same assiduousness spiritually by dining more on the Word of God. In Isaiah 55:2, God entreats us to eat "that which is good" and to let our "soul delight itself in fatness." While we don't want to get fat off of the carbs and sugars that we will indulge during the holiday season, we most certainly can splurge on spiritual truth. The Hebrew translation for fatness in Isaiah 55:2 is "abundance," meaning that as you feed on God's Word, your soul is nourished and strengthened. Thus, when your soul is "fat," you are settled in God and confident that He loves you and will continue to take care of you.
I pray that as you find fellowship with your family today, you aren't content with just nibbling on a few scriptures for Thanksgiving. Just as you're going to get that second serving of mashed potatoes, collard greens or sweet potato pie, have a full course meal of spiritual sustenance. Feast on God's promises, and be filled with His fullness.
Dr. Jessica A. Johnson is a lecturer in the English department at Ohio State University's Lima campus. Email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @JjSmojc. To find out more about Jessica Johnson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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