Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims

Overflowing with Thankfulness

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Pilgrim figures I hate organ recitals. Not pipe organs, especially, but this kind:

"How are you today, Gladys?"

"Terrible, just terrible? Did I tell you about my gall bladder acting up?"

"Yes, Gladys."

She doesn't seem to acknowledge my, "Yes," but launches into a full-scale report on gall bladders around the world, and hers in particular. When she sees my eyes beginning to glaze over, Gladys falters for a moment. She knows she has to switch gears quickly to keep me from nodding off.

"And I have this terrible skin rash that drives me so crazy that I can't sleep at night."

I am trying hard to be polite. "Oh, I'm sorry…."

I attempt to stop myself, but it is too late. The ill-fated word has crossed my lips — "sorry" — and now I have fed Gladys her first morsel of real food for the day. She seems to take new energy, and as she describes her itching, I begin to sense little crawling things in my scalp. I unconsciously reach up to scratch my head, but nothing gets by Gladys. Oh, that's the first sign…." she begins.

You've met Gladys, haven't you? It might be a different name. Gladys goes under a number of aliases and dons many disguises. But it's the same complaining, self-centered woman.

Too often, however, I meet Gladys in me. I want people to sympathize with me, so when something is going wrong, — and when doesn't it? — I begin to complain. The 49ers are having a bad season. The morals of our nation are terrible. The election was depressing. My spouse is in a bad mood. It doesn't have to dwell on the interior plumbing of a sick Gladys. Normal complaining comes all too easily to my lips.

So when I read Colossians 2:6-7 it hits home. The phrase, "overflowing with thankfulness," begins to repeat itself over and over in my mind.

"Overflowing" — "abounding," some translations say — brings the mental picture of the Thanksgiving cornucopia spilling out an abundant harvest blessing. Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." What is in my heart? Complaining? Selfishness? Pride? — or Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is the mark of a Christian, because thanksgiving points out and up while my complaining points only back to me and feeds my pride and dissatisfaction. Thanksgiving towards God and man fits the Great Commandment like a glove, to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. What better vehicle than thankfulness to express love?

The Pillsbury Doughboy® has that endearing quality that when you poke him he doesn't flare up but automatically responds with a friendly, perky, "Oh!" I want to be like him. Not so plump, mind you, but that full of friendliness. When someone pokes me I want my first instinct to be thankfulness rather than anger. I want people to find thankfulness oozing out of me. I want thanksgiving to mark my conversation and manner. I want to abound with it, be full of it. I want to overflow with thankfulness.

How about you?


Colossians 2:6-7 reads: "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness" (NIV)

The Doughboy character is a registered trademark of The Pillsbury Company.

Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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