Not all of us are as cool as this dog in expressing our thanks, but it’s the thought that counts.
I have been asking myself: How often do I say, “Thank you?” I’m not talking about the socially expected kind of thank you. The thank you I’m referring to is one that comes from the heart. This thank you is filled with a spirit of gratitude.
When I was in my early twenties, a dear friend named Bill Pye gave me a brown leather Bible. It wasn’t my birthday, nor was it Christmas. I asked Bill, “What’s this for?” He smiled and said, “Kevin, that’s for being you.” I still have that Bible.
Bill was such a close friend. He taught me how to work with the abused, addicted and rejected. He cried as he told me about an eight-year-old boy who shot and killed himself. I was touched deeply that Bill trusted me enough to share something so personal. He was called to the scene by the police because he was a youth-at-risk counselor. He read the note that was found at the scene: “Nobody loved me.” I wonder to this day what difference it would have made if someone had given this boy a gift and said, “That’s for being you.” Whoever didn’t love this boy, this gift from God, killed him as surely as if they had pulled the trigger. When we fail to love others, there can be serious consequences.
I have learned from Bill sharing this story to always tell people how special they are, to say to them they are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. I tell them that God has a plan for their life and that all life is precious to Him. I tell them not to give up. When my pastor and I went to visit some church members, I saw bullet holes from a gang shooting on walls of the apartment lobby. That day I learned how important it is to tell everyone how much God loves them.
Thank you can be such a healing word. When said with meaning, that word can touch someone’s life where a thousand other words fail to reach.
Bill was such an encouragement to me when I was new in my faith and learning about ministry work. I had just finished doing my first sermon. I was nervous. I wondered how the thoughts of this young fellow who had so much more to learn about life would be received. I said to Bill, “Didn’t you see my legs shaking?” He offered this uplifting comment, “Kevin, you reached me and everyone here. Nobody escaped.” I thank God that what He called me to say touched Bill and the congregation.
Bill taught me to have an appreciation for the gift of life. He would pick me up in the church van and say, “Kevin, it’s such a wonderful day!” He would do this whether the sky was blue or cloudy. Yes, he had his tough days when it was hard to be joyful, but I never recall him staying sad for too long. When he was in an accident with the church van, he described it to me as a “Hallelujah breakdown”! Bill told me it gave him the opportunity to share his testimony of how he came to be free of his addictions when he accepted Christ as his Savior. Bill was just that kind of guy. He had the ability to talk to a complete stranger like he had known that person all of his life.
Whenever Bill would share his life story with me, I was blessed to see the love of Christ within him light up his face. It’s no wonder Bill touched so many lives as he would talk to people in taverns, where we would go to speak to hurting souls. They needed to hear from a man who had experienced addiction what it was like to know God with your whole heart, mind, and soul. He told me that he was thankful for the gift of really knowing God. It amazed me how this spirit of love poured out of him as he was dying. Bill was thankful for every second of life, every breath he breathed. He cherished the gift. He inspired me to do likewise.
I miss Bill. He could make me laugh and bring me out of myself. He taught me to be thankful for the gift of God’s love and others through both the good and tough times. He showed me by his life what it truly means to be thankful in all circumstances. Oh, if you could have seen how Bill shone for Jesus in the last months of his life! He knew where he was going. I think he was in a hurry to get there because in Heaven there is no more sorrow or pain. Bill is having an eternal party of thankfulness and praise there. When my work for our Father is done, I’ll sure be glad to see Bill again and be part of this eternal celebration.
Throughout 2018 I’m going to try my best, with God’s help, to have more of a spirit of thankfulness. I pray this message will inspire you to do the same.
Dr. Kevin James Osborne, D.Sc., D.D., Psy D. Candidate, is the Vice-President of Institutional and Mission Advancement for St. James the Elder University. He was recently named to the office of Chaplain by Most Reverend Heyward B. Ewart Ph.D., Psy.D., D.D., who is the Head of Holy Catholic Church International. Kevin and Karen have a private counseling practice called You Can Hope Again Counselling. Kevin is a Doctorate in Psychology (Psy.D.) candidate at St. James the Elder University. When he graduates with his Doctorate in Psychology, he feels God is leading him to postgraduate study in theology and counseling. Karen plans to take graduate studies in psychology and theology. Our journey is all about being servants of Christ’s love wherever God leads us. Our mission field is wherever God puts us for His glory.