H. F. [Harry Foster]
ON Saturday, June 29th, a Frenchman arrived at Ballykelly Air Station in Northern Ireland and asked to see Squadron-Leader John Bulloch. He had travelled all the way from France to say two words. He felt so full of gratitude that he could not be content with writing a “thank you” letter, and no wonder, for he was thanking the Squadron-Leader for saving his life. You see, his name was Joan de Kat, and he had been in danger of perishing when his trimaran broke up in the Atlantic. His appeal for help had been picked up and a tremendous sea search was set in motion, with planes and ships from various parts of the world joining in the search. At last, and just in time, the Shackleton from the R.A.F. Station in Ireland had spotted him, and so he was saved from perishing. It was a costly operation, but the French yachtsman did not go to ask how much he owed for his rescue. This was just as well, for the estimated cost was £150,000, which would have meant that, even if he could have promised to pay £20 a week, he would have had to live for another 150 years to pay off the debt. No, he could never hope to pay for being saved, and he was not asked to do so. All he could do was to say those two words: “Thank you.” That was enough.
That is all that we can do to thank God for sending His Son to save us from perishing. It is no use our trying to repay God, for the price He paid was much more than £150,000. He so loved us “that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). We can never begin to repay Him, but what we can and should do is to say “Thank you”. We do not need to travel across the sea, as Joan de Kat did. All we need to do is to kneel down and thank Him for Christ the Saviour.
Of course, we cannot thank Him for salvation if we have not yet got it. When a missionary called Willie first went to Brazil he soon learned to say “Thank you” in Portuguese, but he had a shock when he tried to use his knowledge. It was in a cafe where he had given the waiter a large note to pay a small bill. Very soon the waiter brought him the change on a plate and he said “Thank you”, expecting to have the money handed to him. To his surprise the overjoyed waiter no sooner heard him speak than he pocketed the change and went off, beaming with pleasure. Poor Willie! He had lost his money by saying “Thank you” too soon. In that country his action was the same as saying “No, thank you”, so the waiter thought that he was being told to keep the change. Willie resolved that in future he would never say the words until he actually held the object in his hands.
This is the kind of “Thank you” that God wants from us. He wants us first to accept His forgiveness and love, and then to be sure to say “Thank you”. And to keep on saying it by our devoted lives. – H. F. [101/102]