Earlier this week, I was in Atlanta for a series of lectures at the McAfee School of Theology. Over the course of two days, I was lucky enough to spend time with friends, some that I had not seen for a long time. It was great to hear stories about their lives and churches, to hear about the comings and goings of lives that are hopefully being well lived. It was wonderful to catch up with other folks who are doing this Jesus work out in the world.
I was able to spend a few hours with my doctoral supervisor, Dr. Graham Walker, who is one of the most interesting human beings on the planet. Seriously, I am not exaggerating. How many people do you know who can talk about Zizek and Derrida as casually as most of us talk about college football games? Brilliant! As always, I left Graham’s office filled with what Einstein called “holy curiosity”. He is one the few folks I know that leave you with a want to inquire more deeply about reality and your place in this beautiful thing called life. I am thankful to count him as a friend and mentor. I made sure to tell him before I left the city.
As much as I loved seeing Graham and other friends, I travelled to Atlanta for the William L. Self Preaching Lectures. Friends, they were amazing. After each session, I just wanted to sit in the quiet and soak up all the goodness in the room. If you know me well, then you understand what an influence Miroslav Volf has been on my thought and life. His 2017 book Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World is one of the most important books that I have read, period. His voice is one that followers of Jesus need to hear, now in 2020 more than ever. His lectures were challenging, encouraging, and left everyone with plenty to take home and think about over the coming weeks.
In a wonderful turn of events, and thanks to the generosity of Dr. Greg DeLoach (the current Dean of the McAfee School of Theology as well as my predecessor at the First Baptist Church of Augusta), I was able to meet Professor Volf and tell him what an influence he has been on my life and work. We only spoke for a few minutes, but it was important for me to say “thank you” for all that he has meant in my life.
All of which leads me to say, it is important to take time and say “thank you” to the people who have made a difference in your life. While it is easy to think that it might not matter to do such a simple and small thing, I am pretty sure that most people could use a few words of encouragement as they make their way throughout the day. Now, more than ever, people need to feel the love we have for them. So, over the next couple of days, I want you to think about who it is that has made a difference in your life, and then you should reach out to them and say “Thanks”.
Maybe it was a middle school teacher who was kind to you in your days of teenage awkwardness. Send them an email and say how much that meant to you.
For others, it was a writer that you have never met but their words gave you some hope in a world full of chaos. Find their email address or social media account and give them a shout out for all they have meant to you.
There are a thousand people in your life who helped you become the kind and wonderful person who is alive today. The world can use a little more generosity and thankfulness. I invite you to give it a try this week.
Grace and Peace,