Unexpected Thank You’s!

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Saying thank you to people is very important.   It’s easy to say thank you when people obviously have done something for you, but can we say thank you unexpectedly in less obvious situations? 

A Georgia police officer got something that he didn’t expect when he gave a young woman a speeding ticket – she gave him a thank you note.  This Alpharetta officer had issued the woman a ticket.  As he was walking back to his car, she handed him a hand-written note and drove off without saying anything.  He read the note, then shared it with his department and they posted the note on-line.  The young lady wrote, “Mr. Officer, shame on me for speeding.  Your job is very dangerous.  I want you to know that my family and I feel very blessed to be protected by wonderful people like you.  So thank you!”  It’s one thing to thank police officers when we see them in a social setting.  It’s another thing when they are giving us a ticket.

When Mother Teresa was speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994, she said – “One evening we went out and picked up four people from the street.  One of them was in a most terrible condition.  I told the sisters, ‘You take care of the other people; I will take care of the one who looks worst.’  So I did for her all that my love could do.  I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face.  She took hold of my hand as she said only two words:  ‘Thank you.’  Then she died.”  Mother Teresa said she could not help but examine her own conscience.  She asked, “What would I say if I were in her place?”  Then she said her answer was very simple.  “I would probably have drawn a little attention to myself saying, “I am hungry, I am dying, I am in pain.’  But that poor woman gave more.  She died with a grateful love and a smile on her face.”

C.S. Lewis tells about a graduate student who asked him to delay an examination until winter.  This student explained that his bronchial condition was worse, his fiancée had decided not to marry him, and he had even wondered if there was much reason to go on living.

Lewis said to the student, “Am I right in remembering that when you were about 12 years old and lived in Birmingham there was an air raid on the town?”  The boy said, “Yes, I told you that story.”  Lewis said, “And didn’t you say that once a plane dropped a land mine by parachute and exploded missing your house by only inches?”  The young man responded, “Yes.”  “Well,” said Lewis, “if the wind had blown the bomb a few inches nearer your house, you’d be dead.  That was seven years ago, and every day since then has been a gift to you – a fantastic gift!  How can you be so ungrateful?” 

I read about a man who had a habit of writing “thank you” in the lower left-hand bottom of his checks when he paid his bills.  He would thank the electric company, telephone company, and gas company.  He was thankful that these utilities companies had regularly and reliably provided him with his services.

When he wrote a check to the bank for his monthly mortgage payment, he would pause and reflect on the comfort of a roof over his head and write “thank you” on his check.  When he wrote his check for the water bill, he would say to himself that the water was not all that great tasting and had some chemicals in it, but how long ago was it that his forefathers had to pump water from the well in the winter and worry about it going dry in the summer.  When he paid his income tax in April, he always wrote “thank you” on the check.  He didn’t expect the IRS computer to notice it and be gratified, but it was his way of reminding himself that he was grateful to be enjoying the benefits that American democracy provides.

Saying thank you to a policeman, a saint, a professor, a utility company, the IRS, will mean a lot to the recipient, but it will mean more to the one who gives it.  “Always give thanks for all things.” (Eph. 5:20). 

Give God more thanks than He is expecting!

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