Summary: An open letter to God on Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Eve November 24, 1999
Luke 17:11-19 Trinity Lutheran Church
What If I Forgot To Say “Thank-You?”
An open letter to God:
Lord, I have a question. It’s something that’s been on my mind for quite some time. What if I forgot to say thank-you? What if I was like those nine men with leprosy in Luke’s Gospel, the nine whom you made clean, but who didn’t come back to thank you? What if I were like them?
What if I forgot to say thank-you for the food that you give me to eat? I haven’t missed a meal, unintentionally, for some 35 years now. I look into my kitchen cupboards, overflowing with cans and boxes and bags of food and glibly proclaim that there’s nothing fun to eat, and I complain. If I forgot to say thank-you, would you see to it that those cupboards were emptied and that I and my family learned what it means to be hungry?
What if I forgot to say thank-you for the air that I breathe, the clean, crisp air of a place that pollution has not totally destroyed. Would you see to it that I suffocated?
What if I forgot to say thank-you for water, pure, clean water to quench my thirst, running out of my kitchen tap on demand. Would you see to it that I would learn thirst, by making me walk miles to carry water to my home, water infested with disease and pollution? Would you see to it that the lakes and streams that I love to fish and swim in would become cess pools and rivers of sludge?
What if I forgot to say thank-you, Lord, for warmth. Would you let my furnace die and my house become an ice-box? Would you let the sun burn out and the world become a frozen wasteland?
What if I forgot to say thank-you, Lord, for my house, for a comfortable place to live? Would you see to it that I and my family were thrown out into the streets, exposed to the elements?
What if I forgot to say thank-you, Lord, for work... for a job that gives me not only a paycheck but a purpose? Would I then be unemployed, begging for money to feed my family?
What if I forgot to say thank-you, Lord, for recreation, for play, for toys? Would you then arrange to have my golf clubs stolen, my camper destroyed, my fishing and hunting gear lost?
And what if I forgot to say thank-you, Lord, for wild things... for deer and pheasants, for trout and walleyes, for grouse and squirrels, for turkeys and songbirds? Would you take them away from me and make the woods and the waters a desolation, a quiet, lonely, dead place... if I forgot to say thank-you?
What if I forgot to say thank-you for my children, for the miracle that they are. Would you take them from me and turn the joyful chaos of my home into a solemn silence?
What if I forgot to say thank-you for a wife who loves me like no other... who regards me worthy of sharing her life? Would you take her from me, if I forgot to say thank-you?
What if I forgot to say thank-you, Lord, for parents who have loved me and raised me into adulthood with patience and tender perseverance? Would you erase their memory from me?
What if I forgot to say thank-you for neighbors who care about me, who watch out for what is mine, who put up with my failings and accept me for who I am? Would you take me from them and set me down in a hostile, unfamiliar place, if I forgot to say thank-you?
Lord, what if I forgot to say thank-you for this life, with all of its victories and all of its defeats? What if I forgot to say thank-you for loving me into existence and for watching over me every day as a mother watches over her babies? Would you erase my life, take it away from me and erase any memory of my existence?
What if I forgot to say thank-you for Jesus... for the reality that you would love me enough to give up everything for me, even your own dear son? Would you cut me off from you forever, if I forgot to say thank-you?
No. The answer, of course, is no. You would not forget me for my thanklessness. No, you continue to shower blessings on me every day, more blessings than I can begin to number, in spite of the fact that so often I do forget to say thank-you.
And that, Lord, is precisely why I owe you my thanks. Today I say “Thank-You,” even though yesterday I might have forgotten, and tomorrow may again find me foolishly taking you for granted.... today I do not forget to say thank-you.