In any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety. – Abraham Maslow
They faced the horizon and watched a tiny vessel grow large until it finally docked on their shoreline. Coughing and unsteady, pale refugees emerged from the ship who would forever redefine their society.
The Wampanoag tribe leaned into the unknown, expanding their understanding of the world instead of hiding. They stepped toward growth as the immigrants stepped away from religious persecution in Europe.
The first Thanksgiving offers a lesson in risk and community that reached across racial and cultural comforts. They celebrated together after months of hard work and sacrifice as cultures and worldviews rubbed against each other.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” said Neale Donald Walsch, and I can’t ignore what I need to learn from the Wampanoags. They ran toward the mystery, risking and throwing themselves into the the unknown. They gave in order to sustain a foreign culture. Gave to sustain lives not their own.
Authentic, racial integration not only reflects God’s kingdom, but it serves as my textbook into greater facets of God’s character. Diversity is more than living among those who look different from me. No, it involves admitting my need for others, as I see and study and welcome the culture that comes with the person. It respects and acknowledges how much other image-bearers of God can teach me. Really, true diversity involves heaps of humility.
But just one generation later exercised a radically different worldview. Just one.
Ironically, the children of those who bravely ran from religious persecution oppressed the Native Americans, oppressed those who were the very reason for their parents’ survival. And somewhere, woven throughout their lust to make people just like them came the insatiable need for power and control. The root of so many sins reared its ugly head even in the late seventeenth century.
Do I really need more power? Am I so insecure, forgetting my identity is in what Christ did for me on the cross, that I need the validation that others are like me?
Maybe some of the Pilgrims were too busy surviving to share their worldview and convictions with their kids. Maybe their deep loss and grief silenced their mouths as their hearts broke over and over again.
And lest I appear woefully judgmental, I sit here today wondering how clear my deepest passions are to my children. With the sports schedules… and the homework… and the play rehearsals… and the reminders to clean rooms — Are my son and daughter absolutely certain of my deepest convictions? Tragically, I have to ask if what I’m portraying in my home (and in the car) as I hurry about speaks a different philosophy than what I truly cling to in my heart. Is my heart repurposed enough to speak boldly amidst the scurrying? Is the Gospel woven so deeply into my life that my actions speak my thoughts?
I will sing of Your unfailing love, Eternal One, forever.
I will speak of Your faithfulness to all generations.
I will tell how Your unfailing love will always stand strong;
and how Your faithfulness is established in the heavens above. Psalm 89:1-2
God, help me. Life is too short. Their childhood is racing by.
Later this week my U.S. friends and I will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. But regardless of where you are in the world, may we impart to the youth in our lives what is truly important to us. May we help them see God’s goodness from the beginning of time. May we risk, despite the mystery and the unknown, and may we point the next generation to a God who radically pursues us.
As we point to Him, may His gospel infuse our worldview, infuse our everyday routines. And may we recklessly love each other well.
Photo by Han Kim