In one sense, they left their past behind. Yet in another way, they brought it with them. Their customs, their dress, their values . . . their God. The Pilgrims, as we call them, arrived and stayed in the New World, bonded to their tried and true beliefs. Likely, the very beliefs that gave them the perseverance to follow hard after what they perceived to be the will of God.
Maybe their experience is a little like what happens when life changes for us. We find ourselves crossing an Atlantic of another sort, leaving behind the familiar to discover a season of unknowns, of risks, of uncertainties. Sometimes we make the journey because we desire change - perhaps a new job, better habits, a new baby. And sometimes we're in a new place without our choosing it - an illness, financial loss, or the death of someone close to us . . .
Like the Pilgrims, we bring the past with us, too. The past with its victories and defeats, its wisdom-gaining experiences, its values and beliefs. And the underlying assurance that we have an everlasting God we can trust, no matter where we find ourselves, no matter what happens in our life stories.
So, this Thanksgiving I want to give thanks.
For the past: For nearly thirty-six years as wife to a man who loved God first, then others - especially me. For all he unwittingly taught me about life, helping me ahead of time with the adjustments and unknowns. For all he poured into our children. For his example of perseverance and grit.
For the present: For God's abundant grace, provision, and care. For the kindnesses of so many who have made this journey bearable and offered up prayers on our behalf. For children and a family who call and care. For the gift of grandchildren.
For the future: For the promises of God which never expire. For new opportunities and experiences. For a coming "New World" of eternal life "forever with the Lord," where we won't be pilgrims anymore.
Have you crossed a different kind of Atlantic recently? Let's gather with the Pilgrims and Indians of the seventeenth century and remember our past and present blessings and the assurance of a bright future.