Even the trees that scratch this formidable sky are empty and cold.... robbed of the softness and friendliness that their green leaves conveyed. Everything around me feels void and unapproachable.
But then, I look around my feet and see countless seeds, fruits, nuts, leaves, scattered carelessly in a thick blanket. The squirrels and a visiting flock of flickers know why the trees dropped their harvest; and they greedily collect all they can find like children on an Easter Egg Hunt. The discarded leaves seem to arrange themselves in a crazy quilt pattern all over the lawn, protecting the grass and newly sprouted acorns from the snow that imminently hangs in those far-off clouds.
And I see the truth: the sacrifice that made the trees seem empty has filled all the living creatures. The life and vibrance of the tree will return, but for now its purpose is to give all it has for the sake of its neighbors. And this gives a new and deeper beauty to the naked limbs that pierce the frowning gray sky.
Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude for abundance. "Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished upon us, that we may be called children of God!" I John 3:1. We must never forget that the abundance of grace, mercy, and blessing all came at a terrible--and wonderful--price to our Father. He joyously sacrificed His dear Son for the sake of ungrateful wretches like me. The best way to express gratitude for God's incredible gift is not sitting back, fat and happy, in the lap of luxury. He died so that I might die, and through His life I will live again, but the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Like the trees that drop food and protection for the rest of the forest community, may I pour myself out for the sake of my neighbors. It is only through dying to sin and selfishness that I may truly live, and it is only through giving that I will truly understand God's abundance.