One of the neatest things happened the other day. When I got home from work, there were three homegrown tomatoes sitting on one of the posts of our front porch. Our neighbors across the street (empty nesters) had put them there for us, simply as an act of kindness. That was really nice of them, but sitting next to the tomatoes was what I really thought was cool. There were three small, wooden tops. I could easily hold all three in the palm of one hand, and each of them was made from a solid piece of wood. My neighbor sent me a message and told me that they had left the tomatoes for us and that her husband had turned each of our kids a top on the lathe in his wood shop. They were literally homemade, and “fresh off the press”. Our kids loved them!
Have you ever had something like that happen to you? How did you respond? I will readily admit that I am not always very good at sending Thank You cards. Making personal connections isn’t natural for me (I’m a numbers and science kind of guy), so writing cards is something I have to force. I told my wife that we needed to make sure our kids each write our neighbor a Thank You note for taking time out of his day to think of them and make something so special for them.
In Luke’s gospel account, he records for us an interaction that Jesus had with ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). These diseased individuals stood at a distance and yelled, begging for Jesus to have mercy on them. He gave them a command to go show themselves to the priests. When they got there, they had been miraculously healed of their leprosy. Do we really understand how life-changing this was for those ten people? The reason they had to yell to Jesus from a distance was that they were not allowed to get near anyone for fear of spreading the disease. As they walked through the streets, they were to yell “Unclean…Unclean” so that others would know not to get close to them. They were to live alone outside the camp away from everyone else, including their own families (Leviticus 13:45-46). What a horrible way to live. This small interaction that they had with Jesus from a distance drastically changed the course of not only their lives but also their families’ lives.
Then the story turns almost sad. Of the ten lepers whose lives were forever changed for the better, only one returned to thank Jesus for what He did. The other nine may have been just as thankful for such a kind and merciful act performed by their Savior. Maybe they were excited to get home and hug their children whom they hadn’t hugged in years. Maybe they figured Jesus had moved on and they wouldn’t be able to find him, so they didn’t try. No matter the excuse, they didn’t return to thank him.
When someone does something kind for us, how often do we return to thank them? How often do we let them know the joy and the warmth that we feel in our heart? It’s always nice to say Thank You in person, but it’s sometimes just as warming to receive such a message in a heartfelt letter of appreciation.
The next time you are thankful for something that someone did for you, make sure you take the time to let that person know.