The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 NASB
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, our thoughts turn to the Pilgrims. When we call to mind the brave men and women who risked their lives for religious freedom, we tend to focus on the grand harvest feast, one year after their arrival in the New World.
However, before Thanksgiving could be celebrated, the Pilgrims faced many obstacles. First, they were persecuted in England for their religious beliefs. Many were imprisoned, and others had to leave their country to live in Holland. Then, they made plans to come to America, sold everything they had, and put their trust in God’s providence.
They were careful in their planning. Their destination was Virginia, but God had other plans. From the outset, they encountered one challenge after another. After their departure in August of 1620, the Speedwell, a ship purchased in Holland, began to take in water, causing the pilgrims to return to port. Repairing the ship proved impossible, so the Speedwell’s passengers had to board the Mayflower, bringing the total number of passengers to 150.
Finally, a month later, on September 6th, the Mayflower departed. Because of the delays, the passengers were weary and the food stores were low. Bad weather plagued them almost as soon as they left port. At one point, the pilgrims had to help the crew repair the main support beam of the ship with a jackscrew which was to be used in the building of new homes once the Pilgrims arrived in Virginia.
However, they never made it to Virginia, but anchored in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Mercifully, there were only two deaths recorded during the voyage, but by the end of winter, many became ill, and half of them died.
Before landing, the pilgrims clearly stated their purpose for coming to the New World in a Document called The Mayflower Compact: “Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith…” Like our Constitution, it was an agreement to abide by laws to be legislated, obeyed and enforced by the people. It was a political document, but the opening words leave no doubt as to the authority behind this agreement. The document opens with the words: “In the name of God, Amen. This covenant was signed under the authority of God, in the presence of God and for the glory of God.”
The questions I ask myself are: Would I sacrifice everything for the freedom to worship God? Would I remain faithful when faced with suffering and death? And having survived, and thrived: To whom would I give the glory?
Dearest Heavenly Father,
Today I recognize your authority to “order my steps” and even to change my plans so that yours might be accomplished. I celebrate your presence in my life and recommit myself to spend time with you daily. I embrace whatever plans you have for me as an individual, as a family member, and as a church member. And finally, I resolve to give you the glory for whatever you decide to do through your church, through each family and each individual member.
In the name of Jesus,