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November 21, 2005

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A Turkey in Your Life is Worth More than One in the Oven
By: Dr. Skip Myers
Edgefielddaily.com columnist
web posted November 21, 2005

It is not a good season to be a turkey. There are approximately 270 million turkeys raised in the US. The turkey industry is a 3.6 billion dollar industry and the average American consumes 13.6 pounds of turkey each year. (I think I did that in one sitting last year on Thanksgiving Day.) The average cost of a Thanksgiving Day feast for ten has actually gone down to $35.68. Not bad for a meal that causes you to immediately fall asleep in front of the television with the top button undone hoping to find that little bit of extra space needed.

Happy Thanksgiving! I guess it is still proper and correct to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope no one is offended by the fact that my personal thanks giving this holiday will be vertical as well as horizontal. I have found over the years that the more time I spend in vertical thanks giving the more I engage in the horizontal type. The direction of our gratitude is as important as the spirit of gratitude itself.

Horizontal gratitude is directed towards people in our lives. It can be as simple as the appreciation we expressed for a held door or as constant as the appreciation we owe those whose love and support are with us daily. Vertical gratitude is that which is given to the Lord and can cover a myriad of blessings and relationships. Whether we are referring to vertical or horizontal thanks, we must look out for two basic threats. One, that we will focus on one direction to the neglect of the other. Two, we will allow our gratitude to become trite and superficial.

Neglecting gratitude in our lives is a real threat. I fear most of us suffer from the “Pre-Thanksgiving Gratitudenal Insufficiency Syndrome.” In short, our vertical gratitude is greatly limited and incomplete. This is where the turkey comes in. When was the last time you actually thanked the Lord for the “turkey” that is in your life and not just for the one that is in your oven.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 is one of the strongest and yet, one of the most misunderstood  passages in all of the New Testament. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. What these verses are not saying is just as important as what they are saying. Some might want to suggest that what is being said is that God actually causes all things both good and bad. We cannot associate God with the creation and instigation of evil. Jesus answered this question by stating that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Once again, this is where the turkeys come in. When  was the last time you actually thanked God for the turkeys in your life? Living in an imperfect world will eventually lead to our being touched by the imperfections in others. The Lord did not create the imperfections but, He can turn the tide. If we will allow Him to be involved in these “turkey” situations, He will actually strengthen our lives through them.
When we are involved with the turkeys in our lives, begin by rejoicing and thanking the Lord for these situations. This helps to focus our attention on the possibilities of an all-powerfully loving God rather than, the limited capabilities of our own lives. Don’t just merely give the situation or the person to the Lord, give yourself. Remember, God wants you, not just the turkeys. As you give Him your life, be honest and bring the turkeys along. He loves you and wants to show you His love by recreating these situations and leading you through them. With His leadership, you will come out on the other side seeing how He used the turkey to make you something stronger and wiser.

So, as you put the one turkey in the oven, let it remind you to spend some time in vertical thanks giving for the other turkeys that exist in your life. As you do this, you will find the holiday will take on a renewed meaning for you and for some of the other turkeys that just might join you around the holiday table. If someone wishes you a Happy Turkey Day, you can smile and thank the Lord for the joy He gives in spite of and through the turkeys that we all have to face.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Myers is Pastor of Smiths Station Baptist Church, Smiths Station Alabama and a former Youth Minister of Sweetwater Baptist Church (1981-1986)
Contact Dr. Myers: E-mail

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