GRATITUDE. It’s a word that can be hard to come by these days as the past few years have been challenging for a variety of reasons. Yet, I’ve been reflecting on the power of gratitude recently after an experience I had last month.
I had to write an essay for a program that I’m thinking about doing in the fall. The essay seemed simple enough – I had to share how I came to know Christ.
As I started writing the essay I began to think about the person who led me to that personal relationship with Christ.
I became a Christian right after I turned 15 at a Christian summer camp called Hume Lake. I was sitting in the chapel with my church high school group and the speaker, Dewey Bertonlini, was sharing with all of us squirrelly high schoolers what it means to know Christ personally. He said that many of us were probably “on the fence” about making that decision.
My ears kind of perked up at that point. He then shared that if that was the case, we needed to get off the fence and actually make a conscious decision to follow Christ, to make Him the Lord of our lives. Once that happened, all of our sins would be forgiven – past, present and future.
It was at that point, on August 13, 1985, that I asked Christ to be the Lord of my life. I knew I was on the fence and needed to start a relationship with Him. How amazing!
I started to wonder whatever happened to Dewey. He was so animated and was able to keep my attention at 15. He humbly took the initiative to share Christ with all of us, which is a step of faith.
I googled his name, found his email and decided to send him a message to express my gratitude. Here’s what I wrote:
“Hello, you don’t know me but I just wanted to thank you for your ministry! I became a Christian back in 1985 between my freshman and sophomore year in high school at Hume Lake. I’m now 51 and have been married for 28 years to my husband Dave. We work for Cru and have been working with young people for the last 30 years. I’ve got twin boys who are in college now. I’m in the process of applying to take some classes in spiritual formation and soul care and am writing my testimony. I’ve never forgotten the impact your talks at Hume Lake made in my life. I distinctly remember you asking the crowd if we were still on the fence in making a decision to follow Christ and I realized I was on the fence and needed to make a decision to follow Him. Thanks for your ministry! I thought I’d look you up online to see what you’ve been up to and I saw your email. I realized I needed to send you a quick email just to thank you for introducing me to Jesus! Here’s a photo of me and my family! Blessings to you and your family. Thanks again for the eternal investment you’re making in people’s lives.”
About a week later, I received this message back from Dewey:
“Jennifer, you Made My Day! I cannot put into words the refreshment your note brought to my parched soul!!! From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!”
I hesitated a bit before I sent the email to him because it was 37 years ago that this event happened! But when I saw his reply, it reminded me that it’s never too late to express gratitude to someone. Gratitude is so powerful, and God’s timing is perfect.
During this season of Lent I’ve been reflecting on how much God has done for me in sending His Son to die for me. When I sit and think of what my life has become through Christ and how He has changed me and continues to change me to become more like Him, my heart is filled with overflowing gratitude.
So….is there someone who comes to mind for whom you are grateful? It’s never too late to share that gratitude. It could be life changing! In what ways are you grateful for God’s presence in your life?
Thank you for your partnership and ministry to us. We are grateful for you!
NOTE: You can check out Dewey’s blog and podcast at: deweybertolini.com or by clicking the image below.