Dear Jesus, Thank you

Last week I spoke at a Christian convention in Orlando, Florida.  The worship leader for the morning was Derric Johnson, one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever met.  Forty- five years ago Derric brought an outstanding ensemble called “Regeneration” to our church for a Sunday night concert.  We absolutely loved that group. Derric is such an outstanding arranger that every song that evening was thrilling.  I secured copies of their tapes and records and have played them often for my own inspiration.  Regeneration was a big hit with our congregation and provided a night of worship we’ve never forgotten.

Derric Johnson has since served as director of the Liberty Singers at Disneyworld and has been a beacon of light for the Christian gospel in a variety of musical circles both spiritual and secular.  He’s outstanding at arranging music that touches the soul.

Derric is also a very gifted story-teller and devotional writer.  I’ve often retold a dramatic story he shared with us forty-five years ago.  He was trying to assure his apprehensive young daughter that she didn’t need to fear the big crowd in heaven.  She could easily locate the entire family.  They would all meet in heaven one day, “Just inside the middle eastern gate.”

While leading worship in Orlando last week, Derric, who is now 85 years old, told another story that really moved me.  He said:

“When Jaci (the last of our five children) was four years old, I saw her kneeling at our glass-topped coffee-table.  I supposed she was looking down at wedding pictures or a Disney Memory Book.  But I smiled and asked anyway, ‘What are you doing?’ 

She paused and looked up before saying simply, ‘Jaci prays.’ 

That seemed to be too good an opportunity to pass up, so I said, ‘Can I pray with you?’ 

‘Yetz’ (that’s how it’s said when you’re four) was her one-word reply. 

I knelt beside her and asked, ‘Do you want Daddy to pray, or are you doing it?’ 

Full of confidence she answered, ‘Jaci prays.’ 

She folded her hands and closed her eyes.  Then she turned her head and looked up at me and admonished, ‘CLOSE YOUR EYES!’ 

I do confess that I was staring down at her with love and wonder.  After all, Jesus said, ‘Watch and pray’ and I was fulfilling His command.

So, with my hands dutifully folded, I bowed my head and closed my eyes. 

And this is what I heard, ‘Dear Jesus, Thank you.  Amen.’  I looked down and said, ‘That’s it?’ 

Jaci looked up at me and said, ‘That’s enough.’ 

Those five words moved me to tears.  I went upstairs to my office, got on my knees and spent the next 30 minutes just saying, ‘Dear Jesus, thank you.  Thank you for the good times and the hard times, the happy times and the tough times, because they are all from Your hand.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ 

After telling that tender story, Derric Johnson looked out at a sophisticated audience of several hundred Bible College Presidents, Academic Deans, and administrators.  He added, “And right now I’m going to ask you to pray ‘Jaci’s Prayer.’  Five simple words that should move your heart deeply.  Dear Jesus, Thank you. Amen.  Say it again, only this time (like Jaci told me)  CLOSE YOUR EYES!   Dear Jesus, Thank you. Amen.  That’s enough.”


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