November 15, 2019
There’s Someone Out There
The Thanksgiving season reminds us of the importance of gratitude. During the year, we are often so busy making it through another day that we forget to express appreciation to special people who have influenced our lives. A word comes to mind… ingratitude. That may come across harsh, but it’s true of all of us. Common excuses for neglecting to express gratitude: “Oh, she knows how I feel;” “I just forgot;” “I’ll bet he hears that from everyone;” “I just don’t have time;” “That was a long time ago; she probably won’t even remember me;” “I’m not sure what to say.” You can probably add a few more of your own, but you get my point… none of them are good enough reasons.
When I was in high school, a lady sent a simple thank you card with a scripture that captured my heart at just the right moment. I still remember the words of Isaiah 60:1 on that card. Another was a professor who called out my name during a college English course and said she needed to see me after class (usually a bad thing in my educational experience). However, this professor liked my personal writing style and wanted to encourage me to keep writing. I was shocked! Later, another English professor would do the same. One time, a local farmer asked me to fill in for him and teach a Bible class, which I had never done before. I told him I had no experience and didn’t think I could or should do it, but he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. I look back on that experience as one of the most significant confidence-building days of my life; it helped guide my career path and provided a measure of assurance in my calling.
While writing the first sentence of this column, the faces of the afore-mentioned people began to appear in quiet places of my memory, and there is something they all have in common… they’re all dead. (Okay, you didn’t see that one coming. Sorry.) I mention this because I regret that I never took the time to send a note of appreciation for the role they played in my life. They probably didn’t realize the significance of the words they said to me or the action taken, but after all these years, I still remember their faces and the importance of their gifts to me.
Learning from those missed opportunities, I’ve tried to make it a point over the years to send handwritten letters to people who have touched my life in some significant way. They come from all walks of life, with no particular thread running through their contributions. When the faces and memories surface in your mind of people who have touched your life and you say to yourself, “I need to send a note,” DO IT! Don’t delay! At most, it will cost you a stamp and less than 1% of your day, but your expression of gratitude may, in turn, make a difference in their life, or at the very least, their day.
In 2 Timothy, while Paul was imprisoned in Rome, the face of a friend named Onesiphorus passed through his memory. I’m confident that Paul’s heart was warmed as he wrote the following to his young disciple, Timothy.
“May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my imprisonment. But when he arrived in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me. May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day! And you know very well all the ways he served me in Ephesus.”
( 2 Timothy 1:16-18 NET )
Onesiphorus did something beautiful for Paul, so Paul did something beautiful for him. He asked God’s blessings on Onesiphorus and recorded his name and his acts of kindness in letters that would be included in the greatest book ever written, the Bible. There was probably a time in the weeks or months that followed, that those words were read in Onesiphorus’ presence and he was humbled by Paul’s gift of gratitude.
There is someone out there that you need to thank – today. Your sincere bouquet of appreciation may be healing ointment to a seemingly forgotten person’s soul. Pausing life just long enough to say “thank you” is a qualifying attribute of a life well-lived.