“How do You Convey your Thankful Mind to God?”
I want to start with something funny: A little girl was at home alone and ill. She called her mother at work and told her, “Momma, I need you, and I need you I’m really bad.” This mother asked to get off work and frantically rushed to the corner drug store to bring home some medicine. She noticed it was beginning to rain, but she thought she would just “run in and out” to get the medicine for her sick little girl. When she came back to her car, she noticed something quite different. She had locked her keys in the car. She ran inside to get help from the employees, but none of them seemed to know what to do and finally gave her a clothes hanger and said, “Good luck!” She ran back to her car, trying to get the door open. The more she tried, the harder it rained, and suddenly, it came down to what we call “an old fashion gully-washer.” Out of desperation, she cried out, “Lord, I need your help, and I need you right now!” Suddenly, an old pickup truck pulled right next to her. She looked up and saw this man approaching her. He was dirty and had scars and tattoos all over his body. Without thinking, she embraced this man and said, “Sir, could you help me? My daughter is sick at home, and I have to get this medicine to her as soon as possible, and I have locked my keys in the car.” Within a minute, this man successfully unlocked her car. Out of joy, she grabbed this man, gave him a huge hug, and said, “You’re such a nice man.” The man pushed her away and said, “No, ma’am, I am not! You see, I have just escaped prison and stolen cars for a living!” Without hesitation, this woman looked toward heaven and said, “Thank you God, for sending me a professional!!!”
We often say, ‘thank you.’ The words “thank you” are mindful of our expression. The words “thank you” make both those speaking the words and hearing them happy. When we experience “a thankful happening,” we may say, “thank you.” Furthermore, as a follow-up, we might send a thank you card to the individual we are thankful for. They don’t know how grateful we are if we don’t express it. How about God? How do you convey to God your thankful mind? If we don’t express to God how thankful we are for God’s grace, how does he know? Today, I want to talk about “how we convey our thankful minds to God.”
We often forget to be grateful for God’s grace. When we experience God’s grace, we may say, “thank you, God,” in words. How else can we convey to God our grateful mind? There are several ways to express our gratitude to God, like when we send a thank you card. We can write in a journal, give offering, pay it forward by helping others, volunteer, share your story or testimony of how God has worked in your life, and pray in gratitude to name a few. How do you convey your thankful mind to God?
In today’s Scripture, ten people received God’s grace. Even though they had leprosy and lived out of town, they heard about Jesus’ miraculous healing ministry. They, according to the custom, should live out of town. However, heard about Jesus. One day, Jesus passed by their homes on his way to Jerusalem along the border between Samaritan and Galilee. The ten lepers approached him as soon as Jesus came by, keeping their distance. By the law, lepers couldn’t come close to others. Instead, they loudly said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” They called Jesus Master, which means “Higher Majesty.” They heard about Jesus and believed that Jesus could heal them. As Jesus saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” By the law, when they are healed, they should go to the priest first, and the priest checks to see if they are fully healed. After the priest approved and deemed them to be well, they could return back to their families or their town. However, Jesus said to them, “Go and show yourself to the priest,” without any acts or words. As soon as they heard him, they immediately went. They were not yet cured, but they didn’t hesitate or ask him, “how do we go to the priest? We are not healed yet.” They believed in him and ran to the priest, and then they were made clean on the way. It shows how they believed in Jesus.
Let’s think about the lesson of their faith. They were not yet healed, but they went to the priest believing in Jesus. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). On their way going to the priest, they were healed. This story reminds us of the faith of Joshua and the Israelites. When Joshua and the Israelites were about to cross the Jordan River, the River was full of water and deep. However, they believed in God and began to walk into the River. The Scripture Joshua says, “Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing” (Joshua 3:15-16). Faith is to act as you believe, and God makes things happen.
Let’s go back to today’s Scripture. On their way to the priest, the ten lepers noticed they were healed. But, only one turned back to Jesus to express his thankful mind. He glorified God and vowed to Jesus at his feet, thankfully. The Scripture says, ‘He was a Samaritan.’ Jesus said, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?” Well, they must be busy showing their healed bodies to the priest, doing a liturgy at the temple, and returning to their families if the nine healed people went to the priest. It was their custom. Otherwise, they couldn’t return to their families. However, Jesus said, “Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” We assume that the nine people also went to the priest and worshiped at the temple as was their custom. But, Jesus said, “Was none of them found to return and give praise to God, except this foreigner?” There is a lesson here: no expression means no giving-thanks. If we don’t express how grateful we are, nobody knows. Even God doesn’t know. And, God may be waiting for your mindful expression.
When I began studying in a seminary, there were two things I decided I didn’t want to be: a chaplain and a missionary. Even though I was very grateful for God’s healing grace, I didn’t want to be a chaplain because I was sick of staying in the hospital; I didn’t want to be a missionary because I had lived separately from my family since I was a teenager. However, during the last stage of my 15 year study, I was required to train in chaplaincy, and I served in a hospital as a chaplain for one and half years right before I came here. And finally, I am serving here in the United States like a missionary. Through my experience, I learned we should do what pleases God, not what we want to do. However, I am thankful for being given an opportunity to pay it forward with gratitude to God. If I hadn’t had the chance to be a chaplain, I might have forgotten the pastor who visited and prayed for me when I was in the hospital. He brought me to hope that Jesus could heal me and encouraged me to pray continually without giving it up. And, if I went back home right after finishing my study as I originally planned, I would not have experienced the gratitude of the missionary’s work who baptized my mother and allowed her to receive an education. With gratitude, I move forward day by day.
God sometimes leads us in a different way from what we plan. God plans beyond our thoughts and leads us in a better way. Don’t forget God’s grace whatever you do and wherever you are, and express your gratitude for God’s grace often. Thanks be to God. Amen!