No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13
One of the best things about Thanksgiving doesn’t happen on Thanksgiving. Well, let’s be honest, for most of us blessed enough to live here in America it is a day to throw the diet out the window, to loosen the belt a notch, to forget trying to bend over. It is the day after the feast. I know for the Taylor tribe we have perfected the feast to a fine art. Each year there are certain items that just must be on the table. There is the most incredible mac-n-cheese in the world, a sweet potato soufflé, oh, and strawberry pretzel salad. And that is the short list. There is also green bean casserole, rolls, some sort of salad and, well, you get the idea. Even a sampling of the feast will cause your belt to shrink a notch or two. Thanksgiving food…you gotta love it.
But here is the best part. Eventually, probably hours but maybe the next day, there will be a hint of hunger. As full as you feel after the feast, you will get hungry again and that’s when it happens. You can go to the refrigerator and start unloading the leftovers. All that joy from the Thanksgiving feast is reborn right before your eyes. And the amazing part is that some of the dishes taste even better than the first time. A couple of minutes in the microwave will have you smiling just like the day before. And the hits just keep on coming because some, not all mind you, but some will make it for day two.
And then there is the turkey. Mr. Turkey must be related to the cat because it seems to have nine or more lives. After the initial onslaught of Thanksgiving and the day after, there always seems to be more turkey. What should we do? Well, some might be given a quick trip to the freezer, but some will be reborn in a myriad of creative and tasty recipes. Who knows the multitude of ways Mr. Turkey can be reborn in the days following Thanksgiving? You see, in some ways, Thanksgiving is the holiday that just keeps on giving. Just ask your waistline.
I realize that some folks aren’t fans of leftovers. I knew one guy who simply refused to eat them and of course that is every person’s choice. But as for me, I say bring them on. Whether it is a Thanksgiving feast or a leftover burger from some fast-food place, it is all waiting for a second chance to satisfy that hunger pain. Now to be fair, sometimes those leftovers are better left alone. What might have been a crunchy delight one day can be a soggy mess the next, so you must choose your leftovers carefully. Sometimes, it’s better to let that tasty dish go on the first go around.
Do you suppose that is true in life too? You know, our choices and actions can be like those leftovers. Some choices are worth savoring for days, weeks, and months or maybe even a lifetime. Trusting Jesus…now that was a good decision that will last forever. Marrying my wife Judy…check. Forty-five years later and I’m still humming, “We’ve Only Just Begun.” Having kids? That’s a good one too though there have been times in their teen years when I pondered checking the return policy. The truth is all of us, if we look, will discover there are some great leftovers that spill joy into our lives every day.
Truthfully, and painfully, there are some leftovers that still cause our hearts to hurt. A broken relationship left unattended, a harsh word spoken and left hanging without an apology, poor health decisions…yes, there are painful leftovers in every person’s life. While we can’t just make them disappear like fog burning off in the morning, we can do what we can do and that is to seek and receive forgiveness. First, let it start with God. Let Him know how you regret and repent or turn from whatever it was. Then, if an apology is due, give it. Even if the person is no longer around, you can apologize. Maybe write a letter and then burn it. And lastly, we need to forgive ourselves and that, by the way, might be the most difficult thing to do. And then, take the sad leftovers and take them to the trash…where they belong.
I love what Paul the Bible writer said. He said we should forget the past and look forward. He wasn’t saying we should forget because that probably isn’t possible. He was saying we should not allow a past that is forgiven to own us in the present. He was saying we need to get rid of those old, rotten leftovers and that is something we can do. So, savor the good and ditch the regretful. Sound difficult? That’s ok because there is a Dearest Father who will help you. In fact, listen carefully, even now He is whispering, “I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne