Three Word Smiles

December 9, 2016


Is it possible to make someone smile with three words? I think so. How about “Hot apple pie”? “Come for supper”? “Let’s go eat”? It sounds like I have a bit of a thing for food. Is it possible to tell a three-word joke? Let me try. Bakers knead dough. Get it? Gloves are handy. Twins are wombmates. Trees branch out. Teachers have class. Tailors suit me. Okay, I guess the only thing tougher to find than a three-word joke is a three-word joke that’s funny.


Some three-word combinations are lethal: “Told you so.” I’m glad my wife hasn’t said this since about 1984. But she has said, “You are wrong.” She was right. She’s also said, “You are cheap.” Here’s a horrible three-word phrase: “You are fired.” I much prefer hearing, “You are hired,” or “The weekend’s here.” “I brought sandwiches.” There’s that food thing again. How about, “Class is canceled.” I like that. A friend told me, “Crashed your car!” Then he said those beautiful words, “I’m just kidding.” Let me tell you about three words that changed my life. When I started writing, public speaking and flying were my top fears.


One memorable day on an American Airlines flight I pulled out a card I’d stuffed in my briefcase the night before. My mother had given it to me. I knew it contained no money, she didn’t have much of the stuff. But its contents were priceless. This is what she wrote: “Praying for you. God has allowed you to be such a blessing. I’m so thankful you get to do this, Son.” Three words popped out at me: “You get to.” I honestly don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing today were it not for those three words. God has allowed me to do this. Thousands would love to. I don’t have to. I get to.


I wonder what our days would look like if we woke up each morning and said, “Thank you God. I don’t have to go work, I get to.” “I don’t have to parent these crazy toddlers or change this ripe diaper or make this three-course meal. I get to.” Recently I found myself saying, “I have to take out the garbage.” And I thought of a dear friend in a wheelchair who would love to take out the garbage tonight. I get to.


The central message of the Bible can be summed up in three words: God so loved. “God so loved the world,” says John 3:16, “that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God so loved. You are loved. All is well. Why so serious? God is bigger. Love conquers all. Thank you God.

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