Emily picked up her backpack and came to give her mom a hug goodbye. It was morning. Bold, crisp rays of sunshine poured through the kitchen, touching the empty breakfast bowls on the counter. Mom smiled warmly and said, "I love you, Emily. Have a great day at school! Be the one!" Fred trudged by in his characteristic drowsy morning state, but managed a smile at his mom. "Be the one, Fred!" Mom told him with a squeeze to his shoulders. A few minutes later, Sammy whizzes by and runs out the door, trying to make it down the driveway in time to catch the school bus. Mom called out to him with her smile and hug in her voice "Be the one, Sammy!" Sammy paused in his hurried steps, turned and smiled in return, and called back "Be the one, Mom!"
I heard pastor Tom Job tell this story at Young Life Family Camp a few years ago. His wife had visited a fellow mom friend one morning. She'd come over for a cup of coffee and I suppose just to talk. As the other mom's children filed out the door to catch the bus for school, she called out to them in a cheerful voice "Be the one!!!" And they each turned and smiled, and returned to her "Be the one, Mom!"
Of course Tom's wife had to ask what this "be the one" business was all about. It was so striking. It was obvious that this little phrase held such meaning to this family. Aren't you curious, too? Luke tells us a story in his book of the Bible about a time when Jesus came upon 10 lepers.
In those days, anyone with any skin condition was cast out of society and deemed leprous. Totally ostracized, isolated, and outcast. The culture demanded they stay far, far away from anyone who didn't suffer these conditions. If, by chance, you were fortunate enough to recover from your condition, you had to visit the priest to be officially declared "clean" before you could rejoin society. It was just the custom. The culture thought leprosy was a spiritual issue. (This hurts my heart so much).
So one random day, Jesus was coming through their lands. They'd heard rumors about who Jesus was. These ten lepers stood their culturally determined distance away and called out to Him, begging for mercy. He answered by telling them to go to the priests to show themselves, as custom dictated. Now, in order to go to the priest, you needed to BE healed. But the Scriptures say that they were healed "as they were going." Did you catch it?
These ten men obeyed, on faith. Awesome job, guys! They didn't wait for proof. They believed and acted. However...
"Now, one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him." Luke 17:15-16
One. Only one of them stopped to say thanks. Only one of them recognized what had happened and thanked and expressed his gratitude to the One who was responsible. Only one out of ten.
Just one. "Be the one, Mom!"
Can you imagine? Can you imagine the pure elated joy upon the removal of this burden on your life? To be given the gift of being with your family again? Being with friends again? Being in society again? No longer outcast? No longer detested, loathed, and ridiculed? No longer viewed as unclean? When you view this through the lens of the culture of that time, it is all the more a gift. It wasn't just a health condition. And yet, all but one of them didn't stop to utter a word of thanks.
Jesus asked the one healed leper who thanked him where the other nine were. He noticed their lack of thanks. Being a parent helps me relate to this even more. How must it have felt to have given such an extraordinary gift, and not see one hint of gratitude? I see this in my children, and I've worked hard to combat the selfish, entitled attitude.
This mom discovered an awesome, memorable, short phrase to use with her kids, to remind everyone (including her!) to be thankful. To pause and recognize. Let us be the one, out of all the others surrounding us, who notices what is done for us, what is sacrificed for us, what is given to us, what is shown to us. Let us be the one who responds with a cheerful tone, a smile that reaches our eyes, a touch on the shoulder, a kind and humble word to express that we noticed, we don't take it for granted, and we are thankful.
Let's be the one.