Thanksgiving for us this year included a trip to Hawaii for the first time in our lives. Most of it came as a gift from our daughter and her husband who invited us for a stay with them in a very comfortable two-bedroom condominium in Wailea, on the island of Maui. We enjoyed beautiful tropical sunshine, long sandy beaches, warm ocean water, gentle southern breezes, gorgeous floral displays, luxurious green grass and swaying palm trees, colourful underwater snorkelling, a little island-shopping, delicious vegetarian food (which also included a wonderful fish feast at a local world-famous restaurant), and of course, great conversation with our family members and special times with our youngest (two-year old) grandson.
All in all, because of the nature of Hawaii, I couldn’t help but think the experience as a wee tiny taste of what we will probably experience in the new heaven and new earth that the Bible promises (Revelation 21:1). But it was just a glimpse, because during our time there we were also reminded of some of the difficulties with life here on earth. We experienced a six-hour delay of our flight from Honolulu to San Francisco which meant that we missed our connection and had to detour through Denver before reaching Vancouver more than 12 hours late from the original plan. During that difficult journey, I also had to contend with the beginnings of a cold illness that developed while we were in Hawaii.
As intended, vacations are often brief reprieves into another world that helps us visualize in a richer way than usual what it means to enjoy the blessings of God in our lives — time with those we love, time to rest and refresh, time to enjoy warmth and beauty, and time away from the normal duties and responsibilities of life. It was time too, for me, to finish reading a good book called, The Call, by Os Guinness. I love his erudite expression of what it means to be called by God to live as Christians in the midst of a world full of challenge and opportunity. The book is classic reminder of God’s call to live life on a higher plane because of God’s purposes revealed in Jesus Christ.
Last night, after a week at home, we celebrated a true Canadian Thanksgiving with good friends and a delicious turkey dinner. Since we missed that kind of celebration in Hawaii, we didn’t think we could let the season pass without the opportunity to revel in the experience of a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving celebration. It was genuine fun preparing for the occasion, enjoying the fragrance of the home-cooked food, and then serving it too good company, all the while thinking of God’s faithfulness and blessings in our lives.
Despite the reality of living in a world cursed by the Genesis fall, we feel so blessed by how the curse has been lifted through Christ in whose life we have now come to hope and live. Besides the prospect of heaven’s glory, we now have the privilege of living each day with a sense of His presence and grace. I’m always amazed by the evidence of God’s goodness and grace toward us. We feel abundantly blessed in the lives of our children, their spouses, and our grand-children.
This summer, in August, we had the privilege of coming together as one big family for a day or so. We were blessed by the visual reminder of how God, in His faithfulness over the years, had multiplied our lives so that now there were actually 20 of us. Though still mindful of our need for God’s grace in so many ways, we are very thankful for God’s goodness in these lives. As we deeply feel that thanksgiving, we continue to pray and trust God for each one to experience all that God had in mind for them when He brought them into our world.
Once again this fall, we see God’s faithfulness in how He has provided for us through the work that He has for us to do at this time. We trust that He will continue to lead and guide us into fruitful and productive lives for His glory in this year and the coming days.