You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
Psalm 65:11 (ESV)
Our God is sovereign, gracious and kind. He abounds in steadfast love. He tenderly forgives and graciously provides. He alone is worthy to be praised, and believers ought to live with a heart of thanksgiving to Him.
I love the stories of the Pilgrims and the Sovereign God who led them to Plymouth. They began as Separatists in England, fled to Holland during persecution, were sent back to England, then found a ship available called the Mayflower that would carry 102 of them to the New World. This was half of the congregation, pastored by William Bradford, which got on board with the desire to build a God-centered community.
Let me share with you quickly a few of God’s gracious dealings and His abundant provisions for the Pilgrims. First of all, ten of the men got on board a sailing shallop to explore the coast of Cape Cod. They were greeted not so warmly by Nauset Indians that began to fill their camp with arrows. Two men fired their muskets and scared the Indians away. They went their way up the coast and landed in Plymouth. The Mayflower could land there and this was where they would build their community. They built a common house where they all would live until they could build houses for each family.
That first winter was very hard. It was very cold. Fifty-one of the 102 died that first winter, mostly women and children. The men were very weak and could barely provide for those living. One day an Algonquin Indian named Samoset came to the house. The Pilgrims were at first suspicious, but found him to be a gracious man. He knew English! He had gone on fishing expeditions with the British in Maine. Samoset told them that if they would have arrived 3 years earlier, they probably would have all been killed by a vicious tribe called the Patuxets. They had hated the white man. But in 1617, a strange disease killed every one of them that lived there. But God spared one Patuxet Indian who would later greatly help the Pilgrims. In 1605, a Patuxet by the name of Squanto was captured by a Captain Hunt and taken to England. Squanto was later sold to Spanish monks who told him about Jesus. In 1619, Squanto was able to return to London, and then a Captain Dermer took him back to Plymouth! Squanto went to Chief Massasoit of the Algonquin tribe. The chief and sixty painted warriors, along with Squanto, came to the Pilgrim settlement. The Pilgrims were warmly greeted and as you probably know, Squanto stayed with them and taught them how to grow crops. The Pilgrims and Squanto were united in Christ!
Well, God provided in amazing ways. In the autumn of 1621, Bradford called for a day of Thanksgiving. It ended up being a three-day celebration. The Indians brought deer, turkey and fish. The Pilgrim women cooked vegetables and pies.
But during the Winter of 1621, more settlers came into Plymouth and supplies ran short quickly. In order to survive they each received a ration of five kernels of corn every day. They would trust in God to provide for them and He did. The captain of a ship headed back for England traded corn for their beaver skins! They then had food until the Spring!
In the summer of 1623, there was a drought. Their corn was wilting. The pilgrims called for prayer and fasting and God gave fourteen consecutive days of gentle rain! God had given them a bountiful harvest. But at Thanksgiving, at each plate there were five kernels of corn, so that each one would remember God’s gracious provisions!
RBC, look back at this year. God has once again crowned your year with bounty and His wagon tracks have overflowed with abundance. God is sovereign and good. See how He has fed you and clothed you and met your every need. Be thankful church! Let us all be thankful!
With a heart of thanksgiving to God for each of you,