By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist
No one has to convince me of the power of words.
So why am I so often surprised by the power of the two little words, “thank you,” as they lift the corners of my mouth and make my heart soar?
It was 1992 when a good-hearted fellow named Jerry Frear was visiting with some friends at church about how they might be of some help and encouragement to their preacher. Groundhog Day was approaching and, moving just a tad on up the phylogenetic scale, he reasoned that a special day to encourage pastors might be an idea that could catch on. Down the line, October was proclaimed as Clergy Appreciation Month, with the second Sunday of October as Clergy Appreciation Day.
The online calendar I just browsed through didn’t have it listed, though it did have Save the Eagles Day, Amelia Earhart Day (on my birthday!), Patriots Day, National Safe Boating Week, and Paul Bunyan Day.
It occurs to me that if they would just wait a bit longer and move Clergy Appreciation Day to sometime in November, churches like ours with turkeys as pastors could save time and kill two birds with one stone.
Seriously, I’ve generally felt very much appreciated, no special day required, which is a major reason I’ve been here for almost 24 years, rather than three, which I’m told is now the national average pastorate (for a number of reasons, almost none of them good). Two cards I got back in October are still on my desk: “Thank You, Pastor” and “Thanking God for You,” they say. They make me very thankful indeed for the people behind those cards, and so many more people in a little church large in love.
Two words make such a difference in all our lives.
It’s ironic that when we say those words, we become more like God. Ironic because, apart from the deep and mysterious love surrounding the Persons of the Trinity, God need never say “thank you” to anyone.
God makes sunrises and sunsets and bids the morning stars to sing. He fills the birds with songs and suffuses the streams with sparkling light. They thank and glorify him by beautifully fulfilling the purpose for which they were created.
And, yet, in a thousand ways in breathtakingly divine humility, he says to the children to whom he has given life and breath and a million blessings, “Thank you for loving me. It’s the one real gift you can give to the Father who loves you so deeply.”
Imagine! A God who says “thank you.” God grant that we become more like him each day as we choose to live in the beautiful glow of those two words each moment of our lives.
G. K. Chesterton gives me some perspective when he says, “You should not look a gift universe in the mouth.”
True, but if we look around not as critics but as deeply loved children, we’ll find more than ample reason to say to our Creator, “Thank you!”
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org