Every day is Thanksgiving for Adrian Rogers, for he celebrates in the Presence of our Lord. Several years ago, however, he sat down with our friend, announcer Chris Fabry, for a chat about this season of giving thanks to God. You will be blessed by these thoughts taken from their conversation.
Chris Fabry: We’re going to go behind the scenes as it were, maybe just a short step back from the pulpit, and hear a personal word from your heart. When you were a boy growing up in south Florida, what was Thanksgiving like for you?
Dr. Rogers: We didn’t go “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house,” or let the sleigh bring us through the snow, because down there it’s like summer all year long! We had Thanksgiving, but for some reason my mother just did not get into celebrating birthdays, Thanksgiving or Christmas to a big degree. I love the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. I’m an innate Thanksgiving person.
Chris: Are there any Thanksgiving traditions that can help a family center on true thankfulness and not on the trappings?
Dr. Rogers: Yes. We put a little writing pad and pen in a basket on the table, and each day leading up to Thanksgiving, for a week or even a month, family members write something they’re grateful for and put it in that basket. That’s the “basket of blessings.” On Thanksgiving Day, we take these out and share what we’re grateful for, because it’s better than just sitting around the table depending on spontaneity. And then, if it’s cool enough for a fire in the fireplace, we take all those blessings, those notes of thanksgiving to our dear God, and put them in the fire as sort of a sacrifice, and let the smoke rise up as thanks to God for what He’s done for us and our family.
Chris: We did much the same over the years. I have a composition book in my hand that’s getting a little tattered, but just about every dinnertime leading up to Thanksgiving, we would go around the table and ask the kids, “What are you thankful for today?” I can look back through this now and see every pet we’ve ever had and how thankful they were for them. I’ve seen a car accident in 1999 that we were thankful everyone survived. A fourth grade teacher, thankfulness for friends — even for fried chicken! Here’s one from a child who was thankful that Jesus gave Himself on the Cross for my sins. You know, you can’t get any better than that.
Dr. Rogers: No, you really can’t. Those are the fun things to remind us how much we do have to be grateful for. In the worst of times, God’s mercies are new every morning, and sometimes, the times are so wonderful, so sweet, our hearts just burst with praise.
Chris: Do you think gratitude is caught rather than taught, by modeling that thankful attitude before them? That they’d learn more from that than, say, a sermon you might preach?
Dr. Rogers: Yes, I really do. I believe gratitude and attitude both are caught. Gratitude is a positive attitude caught in the home. I’m basically a positive person. I think that’s the way I’m wired. I would be that way if I were not saved. But if I were not saved, looking at the world’s situation, I’d also be a true pessimist. Chris, these are dark days in which we live. We may not realize just how dangerous and deceptive these days are. But I know what the end is, and I know that “the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ.”
Chris: As we focus on the joys of Thanksgiving, there are many people who are going through difficult times. And others haven’t reached the depths of where they could be, and that’s a reason for them to give thanks to God.
Dr. Rogers: Oh, it is, it is. You know, I thank God not only for what He saved me to, but from what He saved me from! Seriously, because of my pride and innate selfishness, I wonder what my life would have been without Christ. In business I’d have been very competitive and in marriage, I’d be argumentative, if I were even able to stay married!
Chris: Some people are facing Thanksgiving alone. What would you say to someone who’s hurting today?
Dr. Rogers: Find someone else who’s hurting and try to be a blessing to them. When you give, it is given to you. Sometimes those of us who are surrounded by loved ones are so blessed, we don’t realize how many lonely people there are. Look around and invite a lonely person to come share Thanksgiving. But if nobody invites you, you and Jesus have a party. You know, He says in Revelation 3:20, “I stand at the door and knock; if any man will hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and I’ll have dinner with him, and he with Me.” That ought not to be too bad a Thanksgiving meal.What about those for whom the thought of “thanksgiving” feels impossible? What do they do? Adrian Rogers is about to address that. Look for it in the upcoming conclusion to this conversation.