Intentional Gratitude

If you could go back in time and thank someone, who would you thank and for what?

I posed that question in various forums. People named parents, grandparents, siblings, ministers, teachers, doctors, bosses, and neighbors.  Some stepped in to raise children when the parents could not, or would not. Some loved by sharing time, truth, and help. People told of receiving unconditional love back when they were not very lovable.

I heard stories. Someone is thankful his grandfather as a young man had the audacity to interrupt a couple on a date in order to introduce himself to the young lady. You guessed it. The lady would become his grandmother! A WWII schoolgirl had a teacher who told her she was smart enough to continue her education. The now octogenarian lady is thankful that she is still learning. A next door neighbor was a surrogate father to a boy whose single mom was raising six children. Many shared something like, “I would thank my grandmother because she introduced me to Jesus.” It’s the circles I run in, I suppose.

That same Jesus encountered ten lepers who were keeping their social distance. He told them to go report to the authorities. As they did, they were healed. In their excitement, only one was intentional with his gratitude. He returned to Jesus, giving thanks and glory to God (Luke 17). I wonder if the others remained ingrates. I don’t want to be an ingrate.

So I pondered how I would answer the question.  My thoughts turned to 1969 when I was a boy and our pastor came to our home. He explained about Jesus, what He did, and why it matters. For the first time I understood “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). I should thank Pastor Webb, I thought. I searched for him online. Found his obituary.

The takeaways here are multiple. Express gratitude to whom it is due, while you can.  It’s always timely to place your faith in Jesus and to thank God. Sometimes in the exuberance of life you can forget to be thankful. It’s good to be grateful for someone even if they’re only a memory.

My goal is to remind you to be intentional about thanksgiving.  It’s not just a day, it’s a lifestyle. And there’s something in it for you – gratitude is the fertilizer for the fruit of contentedness.

The 20th C. poet Helen Steiner Rice penned this prayer about intentional gratitude:

O make us more aware, dear God, of little daily graces

that come to us with sweet surprise from never-dreamed-of places.

Help us to remember that the key to life and living

is to make each prayer a prayer of thanks and every day Thanksgiving.

May you have reasons to be thankful and someone to thank.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!