“The Day Before Black Friday”

As we near the holiday of Thanksgiving, my mind can’t help but remember what it used to be like when I was a kid. I would wake up to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. There were smells of turkey, dressing, and pies in the oven, and I had a whole day to do absolutely nothing but spend time with the family and watch a little football. I enjoyed the familiarity of this experience. If we were to leave the house it was inevitably to go to my grandmother’s house across town. I remember looking at the empty parking lots at the mall and the grocery stores as we would pass by. It seemed so odd that it was the middle of the day and no one was to be found; almost like the apocalypse had happened! It was a subtle reminder that the day was a day of rest…from everything. We were very limited as to what we could do and that was a good thing.

Fast forward to today and the world is desperately trying to take away what little peace there used to be on Thanksgiving by pulling at our selfish heart-strings through consumerism. Instead of relaxing and being thankful for the blessings God brings, people stand in lines throughout the night and race across town to buy, buy, buy. Black Friday has now even invaded the Thursday of thanks. It takes little effort now to completely lose focus on the one thing this holiday is truly about…giving thanks to God.

The Psalmist wrote: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek.'” (‭Psalm‬ ‭27‬:‭4-8‬ ESV)

These verses remind me that it is not only during Thanksgiving when we are tempted to chase after selfish goals. The world around us would rather we continuously pursue the things of this world that are just out of our reach. Keep chasing after what will make you happy, successful, and envied by those around you. But God gave us a simple model in this Psalm for true meaning and satisfaction for the short time we are on this planet. We are to chase after only one thing, and that is the opportunity to sit with God and gaze upon His beauty in His house all the days of our lives. For it is only when we honestly stop and look at the Savior that we gain the very essence of what life is about. We can inquire of Him when we have questions and He promises to shelter us and conceal us from trouble when it comes knocking. He also promises to lift us high when we need it most. As we make sacrifices in our lives in the name of Jesus, we also can shout for joy at the opportunity to do so. We can cry aloud to the Father and lift our voices high in praise to the King!

So as we gather around our tables next week and give thanks, may we be ever thankful for the opportunity to do the most important thing in life and that is to gaze at the beauty of The Lord. Instead of sitting in anticipation for the sales of Black Friday, stop and remember the first Black Friday when Jesus hung on a cross and died. On that Friday as the sky grew black, He gave up His spirit and set His children free; and for that, I am truly thankful.