Thank You!

It had been a number of years since I last heard Ray Boltz's ballad, Thank you*, when it came on the radio as we were driving to South Carolina. It got me thinking, but not in the way it once did. Written as a thank you to his pastor, a number of years ago, the song is set in heaven where a host of grateful individuals come and thank the man for things he had done over the years. Each of the actions mentioned, teaching Sunday school to eight year olds, giving to missions, are indeed commendable when done in service to God. But the overall picture seems to be slightly out of focus.

Jesus took the gift you gave
And that's why I'm here today

The song certainly makes an individual think about their actions, and whether they are doing what they should for the Lord. This is good, but what about that hypothetical scene in heaven? Can you image for one moment that the focus in heaven will be on anyone other than who it is due, our Lord and Savior?! Too much of the focus here on earth tends to the secondary, as though God could not accomplish His will apart from the deeds of man. Granted, God uses people to accomplish His will, but He is in no way bound or limited to do so out of necessity. As His servants, we should be grateful that God gives us the opportunity to be a part of what He is doing (and will do).

An earthly parable may do this justice:

Imagine an indebted subject appealing to the king for mercy, knowing that he justly deserves punishment for his failure. The king, out of his goodness, under no compulsion, grants more than the petitioner could imagine - the complete forgiveness of his debt and restoration to service. But it was not the king who delivered the message, as he had bid a lowly clerk in his service to do so.

The forgiven subject is overwhelmed with gratitude, but not for the clerk. Though he might express it to the clerk, his hope is that it would be conveyed back to the king. Can you imagine this clerk somehow thinking that he deserves this praise and some of the glory for what the king has done? Never!

So, in terms of the thoughts brought to mind from Ray's original song, this is more what I imagine.

Thank you

In my dream of heaven,
it happened more like this,
Our focus on the Lamb of God
left angels for all to miss.

It is the splendor of the Lord
that never will grow old
To gaze upon His Holy face
and not some street of gold!

The crowd was bigger still,
all children of the King!
While many knew my name up there
His praises are what they sing.

Everyone who sang that day,
God had given new birth.
Mattered most what He had done
Not their efforts on the earth

"Well done" His voice I heard,
not understood or earned.
For by His Spirit empowered
was all I did and learned.

Take credit for things He'd done?
It never crossed my mind
Forever to sing His praise
This one no longer blind.

These lyrics may not come close to reaching the caliber of those of Ray Boltz, but hopefully they express a bit of what I was thinking. For me, the bottom line is that it's all about God. All I do, all I am, all good that will ever be done, is solely for His glory and to His praise. Keep your eyes on Him!

Isaiah 42:8 "I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another... (NIV)

Revelation 4:9-11 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." (NIV)

Psalms 40:5 Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. (NIV)

End Notes:

* Ray Boltz was an excellent Christian songwriter and performer. Perhaps my all-time favorite is I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb. In considering a different perspective for one of his songs, it was in no way to call into question his ministry. Truly, apart from the perfection of God's word, all writings of man (including mine) should be open to scrutiny, debate and revision as necessary.

It saddens me that I needed to amend this article and note that Ray Boltz choose to leave his wife of 33 years and subsequently announce (September 14, 2008) that he is a homosexual. Please remember to pray for Ray Boltz.

For the record, the lyrics of Thank you by Ray Boltz, © Copyright 1988 Gather Music/ASCAP...

Thank you

I dreamed I went to heaven
And you were there with me
We walked upon the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name
You turned and saw this young man
And he was smiling as he came
And he said friend you may not know me now
And then he said but wait
You used to teach my Sunday School
When I was only eight
And every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start
And one day when you said that prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart


Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

Then another man stood before you
And said remember the time
A missionary came to your church
And his pictures made you cry
You didn't have much money
But you gave it anyway
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that's why I'm here today

CHORUS (repeat)

One by one they came
Far as the eyes could see
Each life somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done
Sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth
In heaven now proclaimed

And I know that up in heaven
You're not supposed to cry
But I am almost sure
There were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
He said, my child look around you
For great is your reward

CHORUS (repeat)

I am so glad you gave

Article by Brent MacDonald, Lion Tracks Ministries (c) 2006