Blessings, like the rivers of Eden or blood from the altar, always flow downhill. They originate in the high places but they flow down into the valley. They come from the source of life and joy in order to bring life and joy. So often I make the mistake of thinking that the blessings can only be obtained by climbing to the heights of the mountain. In order to be thankful, I must ascend to a greater place than where I am at the moment. I am always looking up, not to receive, but to achieve. But blessings flow downhill. As long as I keep trying to climb up I will never enjoy the joy and thanks that flow down.
There was One who ascended the heights in order to obtain blessing for us. The second Adam climbed to a cursed tree that Eden might be restored. The Lamb of God climbed the hill of sacrifice that a people might be purchased. One of the most important things we can do to guard against those valley temptations of jealousy, discontent, grumbling, and self-satisfaction is to participate weekly in the Eucharist (lit. “giving thanks”). I hold to the view held by John Calvin that in the Lord’s Table we are mysteriously and gloriously lifted up into the presence of our Lord where He strengthens and nourishes us. Only when we ascend where Christ has already ascended are we truly blessed with strength and joy.
Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful time to gather as a family and give thanks for the kind and gracious providence of God in our homes, our nation, and our world. But for the Christian, every Sunday is thanksgiving day. Every week we eat ordinary bread and drink ordinary wine in the valley so that we may be lifted up by the Holy Spirit into the extraordinary realities of life in the Kingdom of Christ. God sends His blessings to us where we are because Christ has gone where we could not. Like water that naturally finds its way to the lowest point, so God’s grace always finds its mark.