One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.
Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.
It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.
That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.
On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. ‘Really?’ she heard whispered. ‘I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!’ and, ‘I didn’t know others liked me so much,’ were most of the comments.
No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.
Several years later, one of the students was killed in
Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.
The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.
As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. ‘Were you Mark’s math teacher?’ he asked. She nodded: ‘yes.’ Then he said: ‘Mark talked about you a lot.’
After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.
‘We want to show you something,’ his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket ‘They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.’
Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.
‘Thank you so much for doing that,’ Mark’s mother said. ‘As you can see, Mark treasured it.’
All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, ‘I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.’
Chuck’s wife said, ‘Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.’
‘I have mine too,’ Marilyn said. ‘It’s in my diary’
Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. ‘I carry this with me at all times,’ Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: ‘I think we all saved our lists’
That’s when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.
The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be.
So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late. (This story was shared by Jim Hubbard.)
Those lists are amazing. Who wouldn’t want to have a constant reminder of all the good things about us? Anytime you felt sad, or down, you could take out that list and get picked right back up again, reading all the great things people think about you.
But what if your teacher never did this, and now you’re done with school? How will we get a list of our own? Its turns out that you did get a list. Do you want to hear what someone wrote about you?
In Isaiah 43:4-5 it says: Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11
Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” –1 John 3:1a
These are only a few of the things that God inspired to be written about you, about all of us and to all of us, in the Bible. Carry it in your purse, in your wallet, keep a copy in your nightstand. Anytime you are feeling down, pick it up and read it. Read all about the promises that God gives us as his children, read about the good news of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and what that means for us all.
And then, when your spirits are lifted and your heart is full of joy, remember thank God for those words. Our Psalm today tells us that the best way to give God our grateful praise is to shout it out! Worship with gladness! Enter his gates with thanksgiving and praise! Praise His holy name!
I’ve watched videos of Southern churches, with everyone dancing in the aisles and shouting “Hallelujah!!” with their arms raised above their heads. And maybe that’s a little bit overboard for our church, but perhaps we can make a bit more noise. I mean, Joel (our pastor) is not here so it’s just going to be up to us. Maybe shouting “Hallelujah!” in your own house even feels a little strange, but go home and try it. No? No takers? So what if you instead found that CD of hymns or gospel music you have, and listened to that the next time you take a drive in the car? Play it on your stereo or blast it to your iTunes. There are so many great songs about God and His love for us. One of my favorite memories is that of my Grandpa belting out “How Great Thy Art”, and it was joyful. He always sang loudly, especially for such a conservation man. But we, the grandkids, always knew that he loved us very much. We also knew that God loved us very much because Grandpa told us all the time about how great God’s love for us is. And its wonderful to know how much people love us. So if there are people in your life that you love: kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, neighbors, friends; tell them. Tell them how much they mean to you. It’s such a blessing to know that you are important to someone, that you matter in someone else’s life, that you are appreciated. But don’t forget that those around you would also love to know that they matter to you.
Pray with me:
Thank you for your amazing power and work in our lives, thank you for your goodness and for your blessings over us. Thank you that you are able to bring hope through even the toughest of times, strengthening us for your purposes. Thank you for your great love and care. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Thank you that you are always with us and will never leave us. Thank you for your incredible sacrifice so that we might have freedom and life. Forgive us for when we don’t thank you enough, for who you are, for all that you do, for all that you’ve given. Help us to set our eyes and our hearts on you afresh. Renew our spirits, fill us with your peace and joy. We love you and we need you, this day and every day. We give you praise and thanks, for You alone are worthy!