As many of you may know, I've been on the East Coast attending school for the past few months at Liberty University. Being from the Pacific Northwest, you could say I'm pretty far from home. Yesterday marked the first official day of our first real break: Thanksgiving!
A holiday to enjoy with family, friends, and loved ones where we join in fellowship together and remember all that we are thankful for. We take time to enjoy the company of others, make memories, and take a much-needed break. Oh and we eat a meal that only America would (and could) allow to happen. Such a ridiculous amount of basted bird, pumpkin pies, pulverized potatoes with gravy, and of course my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner: the stuffing.
But I digress. I am writing this post to let you all know this is actually the first Thanksgiving I have spent away from my family. In all of my 20 years I have yet to miss thanksgiving in the Channita household. But I say this not to depress anyone (especially my mom) or give off the impression I am not joining in another Thanksgiving celebration just as special. Of course Thanksgiving is great with family, but isn't it as equally important to branch out yourself to even larger social circles? Well I think it is, and that is why I am spending my Thanksgiving break with my RA, Hunter Pardue, and his family.
I remember writing a list like this last year on my birthday for all the people I was thankful for. All that follows in this post is very similar to that and I hope you are able to read my list and begin developing your own to share with those you care about.
First and foremost I must thank my Savior, my King and Lord, Jesus Christ for even giving me the opportunity to live. It is by His grace alone that I breathe and by His mercy I am able to wake up every morning. He has given me so much more than this world could ever offer, he Has loved me when no one else did, when no one else would. In my darkest and most depraved hour, He still sought me and loved me. His grace is the reason I have hope, that His sacrifice on the cross, a death intended for me, was taken from my wrists and and my feet. The cross intended for me, was taken from my shoulders and tore against His back. I am even more thankful that He has conquered Death and the grave in His resurrection. When Christ rose, He gave me a way out, another option leading away from death, leading towards life. With His death, Christ provided me with forgiveness of my sins, sins that I would otherwise have to pay for. Without His love and His grace, my life would be without purpose, all would be vanity.
I cannot express how thankful I am for my family. I know it hurts my parents significantly to not have my sister or myself at the dinner table this year for Thanksgiving but please know your children are being very well taken care of. The body of Christ is showing itself to be very caring of those within it, as we are both spending Thanksgiving with good friends and those of our faith family. Thank you for supporting me in all I do, especially in my schooling. I would not be able to do it without you both. Only a few more weeks until you'll have me for a whole month!
I cannot possibly forget about my siblings and how thankful I am for them as well. Al, you are growing up so much and I have seen already how God is using you in all that you do at your school. In even talking with you in our scattered conversations I can see how you are being filled with the Spirit daily. I know God has big plans for you in the future. SE Asia? Dual Bible College/medical clinic? I think so. Of course I know Anthony is going to do great things as well in whatever God is leading you towards. I am so proud of all that you are becoming, the man God is making you into. You make me laugh more so now than ever and that is obvious of your increasing wit and intelligence. One day, I feel your cutting sarcasm may be able to stand up to your older brother's own "silver tongue." Oh and I was really encouraged to see you doing work in your notes at church. I'll have to show you some of mine when I get back in December.
Nanna as always, thank you for continuing to lift me up in prayer as I know you do and you can expect to have several coffee dates when I return. Many more theological conversations for you to pick my continually growing "Biblical Studies major" brain.
Throughout the past couple years I have made so many new friends that have greatly shaped my life. All of the memories, experiences, conversations, and laughs have proved to be so detrimental to my feeling welcomed and loved. I look forward to getting to know all of you even more and continuing to build even stronger relationships.
I must also speak my thanks for both my school and my nation. Only in the United States would I be able to study the things I wanted and live the way I want to. Liberty is providing me with the abilities and knowledge to serve my God to the best of my abilities, the abilities that my God has bestowed upon me.
The last item I must express thanks for is once again to my Lord for the promised future He has planned for me. I feel slightly apprehensive in quoting Jeremiah 29:11 because I understand the context of Jeremiah's letter to the exiles in Babylon, but I find it fits so well in all of our lives today:
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
The exiles from Jerusalem had not the slightest idea what to expect from all that took place. Their entire worlds had been turned upside-down. How often do we find our lives seem to be along those same lines? We have no aspect of control. Everything seems to be going wrong. Things do not look so bright at the end of the tunnel. But Jeremiah wanted to assure them. He wanted to give them the hope they needed to hear, that no matter the negative circumstances, their God had control of their lives and every minute detail.
God has control of your life and no matter what you are going through or what seems to be going wrong, it is evident of God's character that He will never leave, nor forsake you. If you do not have a personal relationship with Him, what is holding you back? Why do you continue to run?
I cannot stop thanking my Lord for all that He has done, is doing, and will continue to do. When will you begin to thank Him?
Happy Thanksgiving to you all and I pray you enjoy the company of family, friends, and loved ones. There is always something to be thankful for.