I recently received a note from someone I knew years ago but have not seen in decades. The last time we had spoken, we had discussed our mutual interest in what it might mean to live as Christian people, giving much more than simple lip service to the things we said were vitally important to us.
He wrote to me about that conversation, "That time with you made so much difference in my life. I became much more active with the faith, began taking Christian studies during my senior year at college, and continued to make God the center of my life on through law school and then in my work life and family life. I think of you often because I appreciate you so much. In my mind God really used you as a channel to help me. My renewed relationship with God really did grow out of those very brief moments around you. I think that most of us never realize just what a big difference we can make in the lives of others. You made a huge difference in mine. Thank you so very much!"
How honored I was to read these words, "you made a huge difference in my life." To whom might I also say such words? There are dozens, hundreds of those. I think of my grandparents. My paternal grandmother used to rise at 4:00 a.m. every morning to write letters to each of her grandchildren, surrounding us with love, speaking to us of faith and faithfulness. My maternal grandmother, who lived with our family, and helped me learn to read by sharing with me her devotional magazines. My parents, knowing the importance of high quality education, made sure both my mind and my soul were nurtured and fed.
Beyond relatives, there were a myriad of caring teachers from school and church, youth directors, mentors and friends who offered support, correction, guidance and stimulating discussion. How many there were! And my guess if this: if any of these good people do remember me at all, they probably thought at the time that their words were falling on deaf ears. I was a hard nut to crack during my adolescence and early college years, full of rebellion and generally indifferent to spiritual things.
Today, I spill over with gratefulness for them. They were the hands and feet and voice of Jesus for me. They lived grace for me and for a lot of others as well. Those unsung heros, rarely if ever thanked and probably often frustrated and in despair over me, changed my life, one drop of love at a time.
It's Thanksgiving week. Instead of the often perfunctory "I'm thankful for the food today" that often suffices to honor this brief season before the Christmas purchasing and activity frenzy takes over, why not sit down and write a note of thanks to someone who impacted your life and showed you the face of God in some way? It would be one of the best gifts you could ever give.