This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on Monday, April 18
Today, I want to tell you a true story. It was about 25 years ago when I was in my first church. I was not yet appointed there; I was working as a very part time youth minister. The church was a medium sized church in a suburb. We probably averaged around 150 a Sunday. I was young, in my mid-20s. We had a number of younger families in that church and quite a few small children.
The church building was fairly new, having been built within the 10 years prior to that and as anyone knows, at about the 10-year mark, some things in a building start to wear out. One of the problems we had developed is one of the glass exterior doors had a malfunction in the closing mechanism. It opened fine, but if it was pushed open too hard, it would retract, and slam closed. If you opened it gently, it would work as normal. Therefore, most people didn’t even know the door was broken. We arranged to have the closing mechanism replaced, but it wasn’t big deal.
One Sunday, I was in the narthex, near that door, along with one of our young families. This family had a couple of children, ranging in age from grade school down to infant. As I was speaking to a group of people, a movement caught my eye. The grade school children were running toward the door and hit the door on their way out. I watched them hit the door at 100 miles an hour and threw it all the way open as they ran out the door. At the last minute, I noticed that their little sister who was a toddler was following them toward the door.
Then I had that moment where the whole world slowed down and I saw in my mind’s eye what was about to happen. The grade schoolers cleared the door just as she was approaching the threshold. I immediately started to push with all of my might toward the door and I heard the sound of the closing mechanism contracting and I knew that the door was about to slam. I covered the 8-10 feet just in time to get my hand on the door just as she stepped into the threshold. The force of the door hit my hand and I shoved it back open and prevented her from being crushed by the door.
For a moment, there was hushed confusion because I had hit the door with all of my might and broke the closing mechanism. Now the door swung wildly back open and the closing mechanism no longer worked at all. So a bunch of people who had no idea the door was having problems just watched this new youth minister they hired break the door for no apparent reason because none of them realized there was a child in the way that I just saved.
The child toddled away not having the slightest idea that I had saved her from stitches or worse. Also, fixing the door became a much higher priority because it had to be manually opened and closed. As the crowd who watched me break the door stared at me in confusion, the dad of the little girl, who had an infant in his arms, stepped up and was beside himself with gratitude. He saw the whole thing and had a full understanding of what just happened, but with the baby in his arms, he couldn’t move as quickly as I did.
It did not take long for all of those confused people to forget about the door I just broke because they were able to understand why I broke the door. Truth be told, in that moment, the door had no value to me whatsoever. The only thing I cared about was not watching that child get bloodied and bruised by a malfunctioning door. If I had not been there when we realized something was wrong with it, it would not have registered with me in time the danger that little girl was in. To all the people who did not realize the door was broken or the child was at severe risk, they were confused. Had the dad not been there to quickly help people understand what happened, that whole story might have ended differently.
I share this story with you to show you the power of appreciation. Without the dad coming forward in gratitude, no one else there would have had a concept of what just happened. My bumbling explanation may not have risen to the level of getting people past the door I had just broken. But because of the dad’s gratitude, the door was almost immediately forgotten as both the danger and the explanation for what had happened came into clear focus. I went from a door-hating weirdo to a congregation who did not yet know me very well, to a child-rescuing hero because of the sincere gratitude of the dad. Without his expression of great thanks for saving his child, my explanation of the broken door may not have been so well received.
We have just came through the week of celebrating being saved, not from slamming doors, but from death. Thank God for the empty tomb that held Jesus for only 3 days. To those of us who are aware of what we have been rescued from, it is imperative that we live with expressed gratitude. Our gratitude is what will help the world to know that the salvation is real. The world will not understand any other way than through the expression of our gratitude.
He is risen, don’t be afraid to let the world experience your gratitude.