Obedience is a fine thing. Few things please us more than when our children obey us. Our dog, Molly, is an obedient dog… mostly, and that’s a good thing. Obey the law of the land? You’d better… or there will be consequences. And of course, God desires our obedience as well.

Shortly after Jesus began his earthly ministry, he was traveling around Galilee teaching when a man with leprosy came before Jesus, fell on his knees, and said, “if you are willing you can heal me and make me clean!” (Mark 1:40-45) It is a touching scene. In Jesus’ days, leprosy was incurable and always led to death.

The humble, trusting faith of this terminally ill man is compelling — and it moved Jesus’ heart to compassion. Reaching out, he softly says, “I am willing.” Instantly the man was healed of his leprosy. But then the story takes an unexpected twist, because Jesus sternly warns the man not to tell anyone about what he had done; instead, he was to present himself before a priest to be restored to his community.

Bible scholars have speculated for centuries about why Jesus didn’t want this man to go public with his miraculous healing, and I am sure he had a good reason, but this man couldn’t contain his joy. Instead of following Jesus’ instructions, he told everyone he encountered about what Jesus had done for him… and really, can anyone blame him? There was no malicious thought of disobedience here; instead, there was a heart overflowing with gratitude.

As I read this story this week, I found my thoughts drifting toward Thanksgiving. God has given me so much. Life, health, family, friends, a home… really much more than I need. Did you know that people living above the poverty line in the United States make more money in a year than 72% of the rest of the world? I am indeed blest. I know that guy with leprosy should have obeyed Jesus, but I want my heart to be more like his. Not disobedient, but a heart that cannot help but overflow in gratitude for all that God has done for me. “Lord, thank you. Thank you for the love that you lavish on me. May my heart be so full that it cannot help but spill over to everyone that I encounter!”

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