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“Only Five Kernels of Corn”
I know that when you read this, Thanksgiving Day will have already been celebrated. But I ran across this little story the other day and it seemed appropriate to pass it along even though it is a little late. I pass it on to you with hope that it will touch your heart even as its unknown author touched mine.
The author writes…
“The Pilgrim Fathers who landed at Plymouth Rock over 300 years ago knew nothing of the affluent times which you and I enjoy today in this great country of ours. The next time you and I are tempted to complain about inflation and the state of our economy, remember the following:
During that first long winter at Plymouth Colony, seven times as many graves were made for the dead as homes were made for the living.
The ship which was to bring food and relief brought 35 more mouths to feed instead, but not an ounce of provisions.
Touching indeed is the picture of William Brewster, rising from a scanty Plymouth dinner, consisting of a plate of clams and a glass of cold water, to thank God “for the abundance of the sea and the treasures hid in the sand.”
The Pilgrims didn’t have much, but they possessed a great gratitude and it was upon this very thing that America was built.
They had a custom of putting five kernels of corn upon each empty plate before a dinner of “thanksgiving” was served. Each member of the family would pick up a kernel and tell what they were thankful for. It was to remind them that the first Pilgrims were in such dire straits that their allowance was only five kernels of corn per person each day.”
I wonder what kind of expressions we would have seen on the faces of our loved ones if when they sat down to Thanksgiving Day dinner if they would have found ‘just five kernels of corn’ on their dinner plates!
In our world of extravagance we often have a hard time even imagining the hardship of those first Pilgrim settlers; though there are some who remember the hard times of the days of the Depression.
I would suggest that the reason the Pilgrims could be thankful was because of their relationship with the God who had led them to these shores. Their relationship with God gave them so much more for which to be thankful. These are the things, the realities, for which we can be thankful as well, even though we are perhaps a bit more ‘flush’ with the riches of this world.
As you read this short article, think about what you have been given that is of infinite more worth than the most expensive material thing you own.
First of all, consider that you have been given forgiveness. The very thing that offends the holiness of God more than anything else is sin. We know this but sin is still the thing that we do more than anything else. In fact it is so penetrating that our very human nature is infected with its deadly corruption. But the Bible tells us in Micah 7:18-19
“18 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. 19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
If that is how deep God removes our sin from us, from the depths of our hearts we should be thanking God for it.
Secondly, God has given us Redemption. Redemption is the language of commerce. It’s about price and value. Psalm 103:4 says that God “…redeems your life from the pit…” If you can get your mind around this concept, your heart cannot help but be filled with gratitude. Think about it for a moment. Think about the fact that God saw you and determined in His divine choosing to place such a value upon your soul that He was willing to pay a heavy price to take you back from the Pawn shop of Satan. And then remember that the price that was paid was the highest price ever paid for anything in this world. Your redemption was secured by the payment of the blood of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. Aren’t you thankful?
Thirdly, God gives healing. Now I know that many of you have experiences with the fact that you or a loved one has had a disease that has not been cured. The reality of human life is that there are incurable diseases that eventually take their toll by consuming the life of the person who has it. We all understand how cancer has touched our lives. But I believe that this is really the reason the Bible tells us that God is one“…who heals all your diseases…” because we all have an ‘incurable disease.’ It is a disease of the soul. It is a disease that only God can cure. God cures this spiritual virus through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and we are transformed from a person who is consumed with ourselves to being a person who lives for the glory of God.
Fourthly, God gives us his Love and Compassion. What awesome gifts these are because these are gifts that reflect the very heart of God. Remember how we saw earlier how God is a God who delights to show mercy (see above Micah 7:18-19)?
Max Lucado, in his book “In the Eye of the Storm” writes: “Every day I have the honor of sitting down with a book that contains the words of the One who created me. Every day I have the opportunity to let him give me a thought or two on how to live. If I don’t do what he says he doesn’t burn the book or cancel my subscription. If I disagree with what he says, lightning doesn’t split my swivel chair or an angel doesn’t mark my name off the holy list. If I don’t understand what he says, he doesn’t call me a dummy. In fact he calls me “Son,” and on a different page explains what I don’t understand.”(p 69) That’s love and compassion, and it is ours too! Thanks be to God!
Finally, God gives us Satisfaction and Renewal. In an age that is trying to find satisfaction in all the wrong places, this is a wonderful gift that God gives us. When Jesus taught the multitudes on the Mount of the Sermon he said: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
What a blessing it is to know that our deepest hunger for God is a hunger that God satisfies on a continual basis as we grow in our knowledge of Him. What a blessing to know that the righteousness we so deeply crave, a righteousness that we cannot attain, is a righteousness that is available to us as a clear, cool refreshing stream that flows from the throne of God…and by it we are fully satisfied because we have Jesus…and Jesus has us.
I hope that as we enter the season of advent, you don’t forget these 5 kernels of thanksgiving, because they are what Christmas is all about!
--Pastor Jerry Blom