Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

God welcomes your call of thanksgiving


Some stories stay with you forever. One that I will remember always is the wonderful account of a man who attempted to call the editor of a large metropolitan newspaper. The editor worked in an exclusive, private office. All incoming phone calls were screened. To reach the editor, a caller first had to speak with a secretary in an outer office, then a subordinate in an inner office, and finally the personal administrative assistant to the editor.

When the man called, the secretary in the outer office told him, "I’m sorry, but the editor is extremely busy and cannot be disturbed."

The man persisted in pleading his case and finally said, "Yes, I know the editor is busy, but I simply wanted to express my thanks for the column in yesterday’s newspaper."

"Oh, that’s different," said the secretary. "Hold on a minute."

Suddenly, the editor was on the phone – and kept the conversation going for more than 15 minutes!

Each year as Thanksgiving approaches, I remember that story for the insight it gave me. It reminds me that the easiest way to get through to anyone – especially God – is with a grateful heart.

Often when we pray, we approach God with a list of demands or with problems that we want solved quickly. At times we pour out our petitions in desperation, and when answers or solutions don’t come immediately, we begin to think God is too far removed from us.

But God doesn’t have secretaries to prevent you from getting through when you call. Nor is God isolated in some faraway place where your prayers cannot be heard.

When your prayers apparently bounce back like a rubber ball against a wall, try going to God in true thanksgiving, acknowledging God’s goodness, mercy, and grace.

This is what the leper did in Luke 17.

Jesus encountered 10 desperate men who had the dreaded disease of leprosy. Forbidden to touch or even be near healthy people, they discovered Jesus was nearby one day, and they shouted for help.

Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priest, who had the authority to restore their place within the community. And while on their way, the lepers were healed!

But only one returned to give thanks. When he found the Master, he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet in deep gratitude.

Jesus looked around and asked, "Weren’t 10 cleansed? Where are the other nine?"

The nine were guilty of the sin of ingratitude, but the one who returned – a Samaritan – received even more blessings.

Seeing this one man who made time to express his thankfulness, Jesus pronounced yet another blessing upon him. One biblical translation records Jesus as saying, "Get up; go your way. Your faith has made you whole!"

Indeed, all 10 were healed of leprosy, but because the Samaritan returned with thanksgiving on his lips and true gratefulness in his heart, he was made whole in all ways.

The difference between being healed and being made whole will be your experience if you go to God in an attitude of gratitude.

One stormy night in Fall 1860, a sidewheel steamboat plying Lake Michigan collided with a lumber schooner and sank a mile from shore. There were 393 people aboard the Lady Elgin, and 279 of them drowned. Among the heroes who saved some people that night was Edward Spencer, a Northwestern University student.

A young, strong swimmer, Spencer made 17 round trips to the sinking vessel to tow people to safety.

Then, exhausted, Spencer became delirious. Again and again he asked, "Did I do my best?" Tragically, he broke down under the strain and, for the rest of his life, was confined to a wheelchair.

Years later, interviewed on his birthday, Spencer was asked what was his most vivid recollection of that night. According to a Chicago newspaper, most memorable for him was that none of the 17 people he rescued returned to thank him.

Do you feel that you aren’t connected to God when you pray? Do you feel that your calls to the Creator go unanswered?

Begin with a word of thanksgiving, and you will not only get through to God but also receive much in return.

Western Union has reported that more than $1 million dollars is spent annually to add the words "thank you" to telegrams. Do you express your thanks to God? It won’t cost you 1 cent!

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