A few years ago, while living in Vermont, Cindy and I took a day trip to Plymouth Massachusetts. I loved American History in school so while living in New England I spent many hours standing in the places history was made. Plymouth was one of those places.
As we stood at the site of Plymouth Rock, where those Pilgrims landed in 1620, I must admit I was overwhelmed by a sense of humbleness and awe. As I looked toward the Atlantic, I could see the Mayflower II docked, ready for us to go aboard. It was so amazing. While the Mayflower II was built as a complete replica of the original, it lacked many of the details that brought hardships to the Pilgrims. (Rats, for one!)
In order to fully appreciate Thanksgiving, we need to reflect on the lives aboard the Mayflower in 1620. They weathered the winter sea aboard a crowded boat for sixty six days. Two passengers died from disease that swept through the ship, which surely left unrest and fear in the hearts of the others. The Mayflower finally docked at Plymouth Rock, which was off course from their planned destination of Hudson Bay, the site of present day New York City.
A short time after coming on shore, the passengers begin making preparations for their future. Over half of the passengers had left their homeland, including friends, family, and generations of history, for the right to worship freely. It is hard for me to imagine the sacrifice they made for the sake of religious freedom. There were countless uncertainties in this new land. There were no programs to help them get established, no organizations to show them the way, not even a majestic statue in a Harbor with a torch of freedom raised high to welcome them to their new home. It didn’t matter to them, they simply wanted freedom. One has to remember the cry of Patrick Henry more than a hundred years later, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” These were true champions indeed.
In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast to express their thanks to God for leading them to this place of great freedom. Today, we acknowledge that occasion as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations. I have also visited the site believed to be the location of that event. Again, it inspired me to give thanks.
Fast forward to a time when our country was established, but still very new. Those stories of the Wild West with wagon trains, gold mines, outlaws, and the birth of new bustling cities. Can you imagine the sacrifice those early settlers endured to build this nation? Can you imagine traveling for months in a rough-riding dusty wagon, headed to a life full of uncertainty, in search of a better future?
If we look back, we must remember the American Revolution, Civil War, World Wars One and Two, and all the others that claimed the lives of many good men and women who fought to secure our freedom. Today, we have so much to thank God for!
It may look dark to many of us in America today, with politics at the worse level since the creation of this great nation, but all is not lost! We can turn this situation around. Our founders faced their battle with faith and thankfulness to God, with steadfast determination, NOTHING would stand in their way. Remember the thousands who lay dying on the battlefields, their final thoughts surely centered around the three things that built this nation; God, Family, and Country. It is in remembering our past heroes, and giving thanks to our God, that we can rise above the troubles of this day. Do we face uncertainties? You bet we do. Can we overcome? Our outcome is in our hands. Will we choose to endure, or will we follow the lead of our founding families and OVERCOME? To overcome, we must learn from the past and give thanks to God, and surrender to Him to lead the way!
Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.