The Unexpected Thanksgiving Feast
By Diane Pearson
“Lord,” prayed Linda, “show me some way to demonstrate your love to these women this Thanksgiving season.”
Linda works in an office near a women’s prison. Several prisoners come to clean her office building each week, so Linda got acquainted with them.
“I had a burden from the Lord to do something special for those women,” said Linda. “He answered my prayer in a conversation with my daughter. We knew without a doubt that we were supposed to plan a surprise Thanksgiving dinner for them, complete with all the trimmings. I wanted it to be special with my best tablecloth, china, and silver.”
Special rules apply to prisoners who work outside the prison walls, so it was difficult to get permission. Normally, they aren’t allowed to use “real” silverware. But Linda jumped through all the hoops and permission was finally granted.
“My biggest concern,” said Linda, “was not the details, but that the Lord would reveal to me how to let them know that this was 'of the Lord' and not of myself. I can cook for anybody, but I wanted them to know that the reason I did this was because of Jesus Christ and what He did for me.”
When the big day arrived, the women walked into that office and saw the beautiful table loaded with food. They assumed it was a Thanksgiving meal for the employees.
“No,” said Linda. “It’s for you.”
They were speechless for a moment, but then they couldn’t get the words out fast enough.
“This can’t be for real!” exclaimed one of the ladies.
“Look at that real turkey, not that pressed meat we’re used to!”
Another said, “Homemade yeast rolls and three kinds of pie to choose from!”
As one woman broke into tears, she said, “Those smells bring back so many memories. What I miss most is the feeling of family during the holidays.”
The ladies sat down at the table, amid tears and excited conversation. “I can’t believe someone cared enough to do this for us,” said one woman.
Just as Linda was about to lead them in prayer, one of the ladies spoke up and said, “Let’s all hold hands and pray.” She opened with prayer and others followed. Some prayed for forgiveness, some prayed for their families, and others thanked the Lord for the bountiful meal, an unexpected Thanksgiving feast.
Linda said, “My prayers were answered. All the glory went to the Lord for His provision. With no prompting from me, those precious ladies gave God the credit. God revealed Himself to them that day in ways I could not have done on my own.”
Linda lived the words Jesus spoke in Luke 14:
“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:12-14)
Jesus Christ makes a place for all of us at his table. Who can you invite to your Thanksgiving feast?
Reprinted with permission, © 2000 Diane Pearson.
Published in The Times, Frankfort, IN, on November 15, 2000.
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Diane Pearson is a Christian writer, speaker, and teacher from Frankfort, IN. She wrote a newspaper column for ten years titled "Real-Life Devotions," true stories of God working in people's lives. This story is adapted from one in her book, God in the Midst of Grief: 101 True Stories of Comfort, © 2011, Carpenter's Son Publishing, Franklin, TN. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dianepearson.org.
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