A businessman notorious for his ruthlessness announced to Mark Twain, "Before I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud at the top".
"I have a better idea", said Twain. "You could stay home in Boston and keep them".
I am not sure about how much public display we need in order to remind us not to forget God, or if public display is sufficient to stimulate our religious sensitivities, but I do know that we need to be reminded not to forget God. It hardly seems possible that we would forget God, but for reasons too numerous and too complicated to recite, we do forget. We forget how we got here. We forget why we are here. We forget that we are mortal. We forget that the margin of our ability to handle things alone is slight at best, and it narrows exponentially with each year we live.
It is easy to forget God when we do not need him at the moment. There are ages and stages in most of our lives in which we fancy ourselves to be quite self-sufficient. We are golden! We feel as if we have the world by the tail with a downhill drag. But, watch out. That is an illusion, and illusions are short-lived, except as they exist in people who suffer serious mental illnesses.
There is a tendency in our crassly materialistic society to spend our lives trying to make ourselves independent and bullet-proof, immune to ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' which strike everyone else. That is a fatal mistake. Study life. Observe how things are. Watch what happens to people. Do you fancy yourself to be exempt from the process? Things inevitably happen from which our money, our education, our power, our influence, or anything that we have cannot save us. I do not want to recite all the things that can shatter your illusions and cause your life to fall in shambles at your feet. I don't even know them all. I do not know what they are for you, but I know they are there. The storms of life indiscriminately strike everybody - the good and the bad, the enlightened and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, those who forget and those who remember - NO EXCEPTIONS. Get ready. There are things that can, and very well might, happen to you that you cannot handle alone.
In this season of the year we need to remember that God owns everything. We are short-term managers. It would be a serious mistake to begin to act as if we own something over which we have been given temporary custody.
A New York law firm was engaged in settling an estate when they discovered that the estate owned a piece of property in Louisiana. They wrote a New Orleans attorney and asked him to do a title check on the property and give them a title opinion. In due course they received the title opinion which traced title of the property back to 1803. They wrote the New Orleans attorney and suggested that since they might have some litigation in this case that they would like a better title opinion. They asked him to trace title back beyond 1803. A few days later they received the following letter from the New Orleans attorney:
With reference to your request that title be traced back beyond 1803, I submit the following information: In the year of 1803 the Louisiana Territory was acquired by the United States of America by purchase from the Republic of France; who in turn had acquired title from the Spanish Crown by conquest; who in turn acquired title by the discovery of a Genoese sailor by the name of Christopher Columbus who sailed under the authority of Queen Isabella, who obtained sanction of the Pope for the voyage; who obtained his authority as the Vicar of Jesus Christ who was the Son and heir of Almighty God, who made Louisiana!"
When you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, remember where it all came from. Remember God, the giver of life and every good and perfect gift.