Around the Table
By Doug Bing, Washington Conference president
Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house was quite the event when all the cousins were there.
Their small two-bedroom, one-bathroom home was creaking at the seams with all the people. There were wall-to-wall people all competing to be heard and seen. Grandma was unruffled as she went around talking to all her children and grandchildren. Grandad would load us into his pickup truck, and we would head out and feed the cattle. Sometimes my uncle would set up targets on the bluff and we would all take turns target practicing.
It was great fun at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
During Thanksgiving, there came a time when all the food was ready, and we were called to the table. The table would be extended as far as possible. The kids’ table was set up as well. Plates were set and every other space was occupied by all manner of food. It felt like you could gain weight by just smelling the food. On the counter would be the desserts, all lined up ready to be sliced up and devoured. All was ready.
However, before a single bite could be eaten, there was another tradition that our family did as do many other families. I remember the first time it happened. Before prayer and before eating, Grandad asked us to reflect on Thanksgiving and share at least one thing we were thankful for.
As a child, this seemed to take way too long. Our family was large, and it took a great deal of time to get through everyone. It was hard to be patient while looking at the mashed potatoes and gravy that were just within reach and begging to be eaten, and the cranberry sauce glimmering and calling to be tasted.
Yet traditions had to happen, and thanks had to be shared.
As children our thanks were quickly thought of and shared in an attempt to get to the feast in front of us. However, upon reflection, the real feast was the sharing, the conversation, the laughter, and the remembering of all that God had done in our lives. We were not a rich family with an abundance of means, yet we could all think of some blessing that we appreciated.
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:11-13
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.
Isn’t it great that God has put that eternity in our hearts? He wants us to plan for eternity. He also wants to live this life to the fullest: rejoice, do good in our lives, and enjoy the good of our labor.
This week as you gather at your family table, either in a large group with a huge amount of food or a simple meal with just yourself, please take a moment and reflect upon God and His goodness. Reflect upon the eternity planned for you.