It was a warm, clear summer day. Two brothers, John, aged 13, and Sam, 15, found the day long and boring. They had exhausted the list of things they had planned to do for the day. As they were sitting on the lawn wondering what they could do next, Sam suggested they climb the hill that was close by. It sounded interesting to John and he readily agreed to the venture. Sam, being older, led the way up the hill. Whenever they found something of interest they stopped for a while. They were in no hurry to reach the top.
When they reached a certain spot, they realized that the climb was going to be harder than they expected; yet, they did not want to give up and continued the climb. Suddenly, Sam felt himself slipping. A big rock loosened under his feet and went bouncing down the slope. Just as he called out a warning to his brother, who was following him, the rock struck John's head. He went limp and began to slide. Now both brothers went rolling down the slope. John, who became unconscious, hit the path where they had started the climb and fell into a deep ditch beside the path.
By then Sam managed to catch hold of a plant, broke the fall and struggled to his feet. Soon he steadied himself and looked for his brother. After what seemed eternity, he found him lying in the ditch. It was so deep that he could not take him out. Without wasting any more time, he ran to his house as fast as he could and told his parents of the accident. They immediately contacted the fire station. The fire servicemen went to the spot right away in their rescue vehicle. By then the news spread like wild fire in the small town and a big crowd, including several newspaper photographers followed the rescue party.
With great difficulty, the rescue party got John out of the ditch. He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance for treatment. Many prayers ascended to the throne of Cod. God answered the prayers and John recovered sooner than expected. It was a miracle that John suffered no broken bones.
Once John was back home, his mother decided that she would do something for the rescue party as an act of gratitude. After thinking it over for several days, she decided that she would bike a cake and take it to the fire service station. This was the only thing she could do within her limited means.
But, to young Sam, it was too small a gift for the men who saved his brother's life. He could visualize the men laughing at the meager gift. in spite of all the protests he made, when he woke up the next morning, he could smell the delicious aroma coming from the kitchen. He was always proud of mom's baking, yet, he felt that the gift was too cheap. Once again he protested, "Mom, haven't you changed your mind? Are you really going to take this to the men there?"
"I certainly intend to take this to the men who rescued your brother, Sam," she stated firmly.
The cake was a real work of art. Sam realized that a great deal of love and affection was baked in the cake. After much persuasion Sam consented to accompany mother to the fire station, "But I won't go in," he stated with finality. "I'll wait in the car."
Mother proudly walked inside the fire station with the cake in her hands. She was back in a few minutes, her hands empty, her eyes shining. For a moment she sat back quietly, savoring her happiness. She finally broke the silence and said, "I didn't have any trouble finding some of the men who rescued John." She continued telling how she expressed her gratitude and explained to the men, even though she could not do much in return, she wanted to show her thanks in a material way, so she had baked them a cake. They greeted her explanation with big smiles of appreciation, especially when they opened the box and saw the luscious cake inside.
"But can you imagine," she continued, "just as I was leaving, one of those men said to me, 'Lady, of all the people we've helped you are the only one who's ever come back afterward to tell us thanks.'
Can you imagine it? Of all the hundreds of people rescued only one family went to say thank you.
Does this sound similar to one of the incidents recorded in the Bible? When Jesus lived on this earth, He healed so many sick people. Among them were a group of ten lepers. He healed all ten of them at the same time, in the same manner. How many returned to say, "Thank you, Jesus"? Only one.
Stop for a moment and examine yourself. Are you thankful to God like the one leper or unthankful like the other nine? Are you thankful for today for the blessings you receive from God? Do you stop to thank others for the little acts of kindness you receive? It is not the quality or the quantity or the worth of the gift that matters. What really matters is the thoughtfulness to say thank you.
It was a September day, 1860. An overloaded steamer, Lady Elgin, set off from the shores of Lake Michigan. It was wrecked in a storm just above Evanston. Spectators gathered on the shore. In Northwestern University the students formed themselves to rescue the drowning passengers. One of them was Edward W. Spencer, a student in Garret Biblical Institute. He spotted a woman clinging on to some wreckage far out into the breakers. He threw off his coat and swam out through the heavy waves and brought her to the land and safety. He did not stop there. He went back for more and rescued 17 persons. When he brought the 17th person, he collapsed in exhaustion. While he was tossing in delirium that night, he cried over and over to his brother, "Did I do my best? Oh, I'm afraid I did not do my best!" When his brother tried to quiet him by saying, "You saved 17 lives," he would reply, "Oh, if I could have saved one more!"
The story does not end there. Several years later, Dr. Torrey told of this incident at a meeting in Los Angeles. A man in the audience called out that Edward Spencer was present there. Dr. Torrey invited. Spencer up on the platform and an old man with white hair slowly climbed the steps amid loud applause. Dr. Torrey asked him if anything in particular stood out in his memory of that incident. Spencer replied, "Only this. Sir. Of the 17 people I saved, not one of them ever thanked me."
Turn your thoughts to Golgotha where the Son of God hung on the cross to save you and me from this sin sick world. As He looked at the crowd that was insulting and mocking Him, perhaps the most difficult thing for Him to take was the ingratitude, for those were the very souls He came to save. Let us not be among those who despise Him. Are you thankful to the Lord for everything He has been doing for you? If so, why not join me in saying:
"Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole,
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me,
Thy great salvation so full and free."