So, the Anderson family is gathered for their evening meal and father Charlie is going to give thanks for it. Having promised his wife he would raise his six boys and one daughter in a Christian home after her death his blessing is about as reluctant as his taking them to church every Sunday. This scene is a classic Hollywood prayer, straight from the 1965 Universal Studios hit Shenandoah, with Jimmy Stewart in the lead. Please take a moment and watch this short clip by clicking here.
Thanking God for the food anyway is such a vivid expression of the American work ethic. This attitude and prayer was evident in 1965 and so much more so today as the consumer culture has ripened and flourished. In many respects the Thanksgiving holiday these days is more a celebration and recognition of our accomplishments than deep, genuine gratitude to God for his provision. A great family meal, a couple of days off the treadmill, left-overs for the next week, and Black Friday have become annual dividends for a job well done. Like Charlie Anderson in the movie clip prayer we've worked ourselves to the bone for this bounty, deserve it for our work, but pause to thank God anyway for letting us enjoy the fruit of our labors.
That God is creator, provider, and owner of all things is central to my Christian worldview. Scripture makes much of His total ownership of all things---
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those
who dwell therein.
Psalm 24:1, ESV
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created
through him and for him.
Colossians 1:16, ESV
For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the
birds of the hills and all that moves in the field is mine. “If I were hungry, I would
not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine."
Psalm 50: 11-12, ESV
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.
Romans 11:36, ESV
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and
the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the
kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor
come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in
your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you,
our God, and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29: 11-13, ESV
Genuine thanksgiving grows out of a core belief that everything originates with God the Father, yes, the stuff on the table, in the house and garage, but also the brains that imagined it all, the muscles that made it happen, the creativity that birthed so much innovation, and even the opportunity He provides for work. It's not a thank you anyway deal, but a thank you because---because He provided all things.
A favorite verse puts it into sharper perspective, one of those biblical truths that put's the matter in italics or bold print. Paul wrote---
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord
Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17, ESV
The idea is giving thanks for everything, word and deed, because it is done out of gratitude to him.
The anyway thing should be reversed, anyway. As I'm counting my blessings this week, I realize that I really don't deserve anything He so generously and graciously provides. What I deserve are death and hell, the wages of my sin. But, look at the blessings. He gives them to me anyway, though they are underserved, gifts of His grace.
So, this week, I'm not saying thank you anyway. I'm saying thank you for your many blessings, blessings that you give to me anyway.
Have a thankful week.