LOOKING UP: A Thanksgiving Challenge
Monday, 19 November 2012 by Joe Baisden
Recently, I received a card and a note from a longtime friend. His note began, "I have been writing to people who have been a blessing to my life and you happen to fall into that category." He went on to recall a couple of times where our lives had crossed in a most significant way.
I was deeply touched by the unexpected message and moved to pause and thank God for our most meaningful relationship that has spanned over a half-century. Many were the times when his wisdom guided me through some rough spots in my ministry.
Incidentally, it was not a text message or an email. It was a handwritten note.
For 38 years since coming to Belton, I preached an annual sermon specifically encouraging folks to get such things like that done before it is too late. I tried to practice what I preached and discovered that there is a tremendous joy in making the effort to communicate to others how much they are valued and to thank them in a formal way for their kindnesses.
Too often folks leave unsaid words of love and encouragement that, if communicated, would make a difference in the lives of others. Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote, Gratitude is not the quiet game. It begs to be expressed, both to God and others. "Silent gratitude," Gladys Berthe Stern said, "isn't much use to anyone."
Thanksgiving Day is on the horizon, and I would like to extend a challenge to each of you readers to make a list of people who would benefit from receiving a word of gratitude from you. You may think that they already know how much you appreciate them, and that such an activity is not necessary. Trust me. The poem by Frank Hebert Sweet that I so often quoted in my "Come Before Winter" sermons is true. Your silence withholds a blessing.
If you have a tender message,
Or a loving word to say,
Do not wait till you forget it,
But whisper it today;
The tender word unspoken,
The letter never sent,
The long-forgotten messages,
The wealth of love unspent--
For these some hearts are breaking,
For these some loved ones wait;
So show them that you care for them
Before it is too late.
I mentioned earlier that the note I received was handwritten. There are other ways to send a message, but in this day and time, the handwritten note has become extra special. Randy Pausch knew that he had only a few months to live when he wrote the book, The Last Lecture. He had this to say about the lost art of thank-you notes, "Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other. And despite my love of efficiency, I think that thank-you notes are best done the old fashioned way, with pen and paper."
The note doesn't have to be lengthy. It should be comprehensive, but be as concise as possible. Say what you need to say in a few words.
So, in these few days before Thanksgiving Day, do something special. Sit down and write at least one heartfelt note to someone who has blessed your life. Be a blessing to them.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." – John 13:35