by Adam J. Wehrley
Among my greatest fears are needles and geese. I am cautious around bears, scorpions and rattlesnakes, but geese are just creepy and I’d like to avoid them completely. I am rarely obligated to spend time with them and I am thankful for that. Needles, on the other hand, are sometimes necessary.
My son Elias had his first trip to the emergency ward a month ago (sometimes the boy lives like he’s a human cannonball, so I am amazed he has survived six years without more injuries). I watched the doctor inject the anesthetic in several places, give him stitches and throw in a tetanus booster. He was current already, but I’ve read up on tetanus and it is a disease worth preventing. That one shot bothered Elias more than the rest of the procedure. It all bothered me.
As parents there are many times when we know things our children won’t enjoy (like tetanus shots), will turn out for their benefit later. However, it’s much more fun to give those things our kids will enjoy, which also have benefits (like raspberry pie).
I try not to over use important words. I love my wife, I love my family, I love Jesus Christ, I love teaching God’s Word, I love the United States of America. I really, really, really like pie, and I really dislike geese and needles.
Instinctively, I feel some cures and preventions should remain unpleasant so they teach us the seriousness of what they prevent. Tetanus shots are like that, but I’m suspicious of sweet, flavored children’s medication. We assume that what is good for us has to be unpleasant. We’re wrong.
Life is not meant to be one long dessert buffet, but it’s just as foolish to assume that it’s a long series of tetanus shots. The world is broken, but it is not without beauty and joy. We are all scarred by our own sins and the sins of others, but we have a Redeemer who can forgive and renew.
Our nation is imperfect, but it continues to be a blessing and provide hope to much of the world. Painful realities are not the only realities and anxiously dwelling on the negatives instead of our blessings drives us as far from God as self-indulgence can.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Raspberry pie can be as important a remedy as any injection. So can stuffing and gravy and apple pie (notice I listed pie twice, not to mention blackberry pie and blueberry pie).
The importance of feasting is in recognizing that none of us are truly self-sufficient, that what we have to enjoy is a gift. Those who believe they are self-sufficient fail to recognize that God is the source of their blessings and so lose the importance of giving thanks through celebrations. It is an insult to the giver not to enjoy the gifts.
Thanksgiving is a recognition of the one ultimate source of all those things we enjoy. And we are commanded to enjoy them. We are also commanded to share our blessings. Pies and the rest of the feast we enjoy on Thanksgiving, are there to remind us of God’s love and blessings – blessings beyond meeting our physical needs, the blessings of family, of freedom, of forgiveness and of knowing and worshipping Him.
The feast ought to teach that every meal, every blessing, large or small, is a gift.
I am completely dependent on others for pies. Without my grandmother I would not know what berry pie really is, and without my mom and my wife, I would have no hope of raspberry pie in this life. Likewise all our blessings (family, freedom, salvation, rain, sun, snow, peace with God and every piece of pie) have their ultimate source in Christ.
There is a false piety which denies the obligation to enjoy and celebrate the love of Christ and the blessings He has poured out on us. It denies the realities of joy, of peace with God, of laughing with children, relaxing with friends and feasting with family.
The commands to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances show that joy and gratitude should characterize our daily lives, our moment-to-moment existence.
Times of feasting and celebration are a cure for lives of ingratitude, selfishness and self-righteous false piety.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
Our dependence teaches us gratitude. Since it is an insult to the giver not to enjoy the gift, celebrating family and celebrating our other blessings are the best ways to learn and to express our gratitude for them all.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)
Adam Wehrley is a fourth generation member of the family that has owned and operated The Clatskanie Chief since 1922. He is a member of the faculty at Hebron Seminary in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Adam, his wife Molly and their three children are currently back in Oregon visiting with family members and friends for the holiday season.