I have a lot to be thankful for, and I have honestly made it my practice for many years to try to be a person who constantly says "thank you," especially to God. I am still alive and healthy, as are my wife, children, mom and in-laws. I married the love of my life 20 years ago, and we are still very much enjoying being together. I still have good eyesight, I have never been physically stronger, and I am relatively pain-free.
I have been blessed to pastor the same church for 17 years, and I am further blessed to be allowed to preach a great number of revivals, youth rallies, marriage conferences and other special meetings each year.
I truly have a lot to be thankful for. The above list does not even begin to scratch the surface. This morning, though, I am particularly grateful for paper and ink, specifically that which goes into this newspaper and the other 10 papers my column is carried in across five states. When I began writing this column, there were some blessings that I did not anticipate, things over which I have been pleasantly surprised. These blessings consist of the regular contact I am receiving from you, the readers, and the friendships that have developed through it.
Each week I receive prayer requests. Sometimes it is for a lost loved one, sometimes for a broken heart, sometimes even over a cherished pet. It has been and will continue to be my highest honor to lift those matters up in prayer before the throne of God.
Often I receive precious letters from people who have read the columns and then bought my books. Last week I got one of those from Georgia. From Tennessee came several letters seeking counsel. Sitting down at my desk and putting pen to paper to answer correspondence like that never fails to encourage my heart.
I have made new friends from six states: Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Virginia.
I have received emails that both delight and sometimes befuddle me. I do not yet know what it means to be "the keeper of the blue flame of the highest of the orders," but it sounds interesting, to say the least! I managed to highly offend a reader (his exact words) by "insulting dandelions." That one, I must confess, I never saw coming, and I apologize.
The power of the printed word is utterly amazing. And, like any "superpower," it should be used, but it should be used carefully. I am not the only one with this superpower, each of you have it as well. You may not write a weekly column, as I do, but you still have access to pen, paper, computer, printer, email, text, Facebook and a host of other forms of the printed word.
So here it is, the first assignment I have ever given in a column. Today, take time to write at least one person an encouraging note. This column is accessible to 1.3 million people in five states, not including the people who have access to it online and in adjoining states. If just a tenth of those people actually read it and do the assignment, some one hundred and thirty thousand people will have their day brightened.
Proverbs 18:21 says "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." Use your words to build up rather than tear down that spouse, co-worker, friend, loved one. Use your words to make amends, or to forgive. Use your words to encourage your pastor, or someone else who has served you. Use this assignment to give some much needed thanks to people who deserve it.
The benefit of the written word over the spoken word is that the encouragement will be read and re-read again and again.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., and the author of several books which are available at wordofhismouth.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.