The time had finally come. We just couldn’t take it anymore. There on the end table in our living room sat the last of the thank you notes from our wedding. Our wedding was over a year and a half ago, and here still sat half a dozen notes without addresses waiting to be sent. But at this point, it just seemed too embarrassing. What would those people think? At this point, they’d probably forgotten all about it anyway.
So, I’m sorry to say that into the trash they went. If you are reading this and are one of the people who came to our wedding and didn’t receive one, all I can say is I’m sorry. We really appreciated your support and had every intention in the world of expressing that. But then, we got busy, and the best of intentions got pushed aside.
That's the problem with intending to do things instead of actually doing them, isn't it? At some point, it becomes too late.
Recently, I was reminded again of the importance of acting in the moment as I read through Luke 17. In this chapter we find a story about Jesus and a group of men in need of healing. These men are afflicted with a nasty skin disorder called leprosy. As Jesus enters the town, the men call out to Him. He tells them to go and present themselves to the priest. As they rush off to do so, they are healed.
Upon seeing his healing, one of the ten men turns back. He falls at Jesus’ feet and begins to thank Him and praise Him, giving glory to God. Jesus looks and says, “Weren’t ten men healed? Where are the other nine?” He again looks at the man at His feet and tells him his “faith has made him well.”
For so much of my life growing up, I’ve always read this thinking, “How could those other nine not come back and thank Jesus for what he had done for them?” I think this is how we often view this story. However, if we take a step back and start looking at this through the lens of our own humanity, I think we begin to see a different story take shape. Let’s take a quick look at this again together:
First, at this point in time, leprosy was thought of as a very serious disease. Today, we know that it isn’t as contagious as once thought and is pretty treatable. At that time though, it came on without much warning, and because of the sores, wounds, and disfigurement it caused, it looked pretty serious. So it had to be treated seriously. They didn’t have access to the medical treatment we do today. For the good for the community, those affected were forced to live on the outskirts. They had to live at a distance from everyone.
Think about that. These men had to leave their homes, families, jobs, and communities. In essence, they left everything that gave them their identity. They couldn’t come within a pre-determined distance of anyone. They couldn’t hug their loved ones. They had no assurances of ever recovering and being able to return home. Leprosy is a slow-moving disease that could last years. Because of the wounds it caused, it also came with a higher risk of infection, and as a result, contracting something else could be fatal.
These men were in a desperate situation, and then, Jesus showed up.
Word of Jesus and what He had done had inevitably made its way to these men. So, when they saw Him approaching the town, it must have awoken a deep hope within them. They began to cry out to him “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Jesus, from a distance still, replied to them, “Go show yourselves to the priest.”
That statement may seem strange to us, but it had meaning to them. In order to return to their lives, they had to be declared clean by the priest and go through a series of rituals. So, they immediately headed for the priest, and as they went, they were healed.
Now, this is where the story turns. One of the men, instead of continuing on, turns back. The other nine continue on their way. Can you really blame them? Think of all they had lost and were about to get back. Think of their excitement to go and see their loved ones and return to their job and community. There’s a good chance you and I would have been right there with them.
In fact, if I’m honest, I’m exactly like them most of the time. I spend time crying out to God and asking Him to come through for me on things both great and small, and when He does, I just keep moving on to the next thing. I don’t take any time in the moment to praise Him.
But the Samaritan man got it! He understood what had just been done for him. He made a choice in the moment that giving thanks and praise to God was more important than getting back to his life. What an incredible decision! He turned and fell at Jesus’ feet in worship.
This needs to be the way you and I react, as well.
When God comes through for us, we need to thank Him. We need to stop and worship Him right there in the moment.
It is the most important thing we can do – far more important than our business or whatever else we think we need to rush off to.
So, have you been putting off your thank you notes to God? Has he been moving in your life and answering your prayers? Has He been faithful? Has He blessed you today in any way? I think we all know the answer to those questions: yes. Let’s take some time together right now to stop and give our thanks and praise to our God for all that He has done for us.
Don’t let the moment pass you by. Instead, let’s be people who are truly thankful in the moment.