Today, I feel vindicated. I just read an article that the exclamation point was not put on a typewriter key until 1970. I graduated from high school in 1969. I think I have just figured out my problem. Mystery solved. In my formative years, how did I ever express my joys, my life, my dreams and hopes if I didn’t have the exclamation point? Maybe that’s why my generation became rebellious and turned to smoking pot and taking drugs. We didn’t have an exclamation point to help us release our frustrations. All we had were periods, commas and question marks, and they’re either boring or annoying depending on which day of the week it is. We had to find ways other than punctuation to express our exasperation and discontent. But the exclamation point is the salsa of writing; it adds a zing to anything!
Here’s one example. Which of these makes you feel better: “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Birthday!”? See, the exclamation point makes all the difference. You can almost hear the little guy singing, “Happy birthday to you!”
But let me make sure I haven’t confused or misled you. We had exclamation points when I was growing up, but they were as rare as a pimple-free teenager. In order to type an exclamation point back in the days of the manual typewriter, you had to create one by first typing an apostrophe, then hitting backspace and typing a period underneath it. I don’t think that’s even possible on today’s computers. Who would want to go to all the trouble of writing “Hi!!!” if you had to go through such gymnastics to do it? It would take you five minutes to type, backspace and type again. It just wasn’t worth the trouble.
If you’ve ever gotten an email from me, you know that I still haven’t gotten over the wonders of these new punctuation marks. Yep, I’m one of those guys who has a tendency to overuse and slightly abuse the exclamation point. To me, it’s the cheerleader of all punctuation marks, and the more of them you use, the more they rally together to communicate your true sense of excitement. I bet scientists will one day discover that the exclamation point is the only punctuation mark that actually engages the happy cells in your brain. Even a simple little, “Get well soon!” brings about a quicker recovery.
Of course, there are times when using the exclamation point is inappropriate. You wouldn’t want to say, “Just got a call from Uncle Ben. Your Aunt Jane passed away!” The only time the exclamation point would be appropriate in that context would be if she had left you “a million dollars in her will!” (and you were going to give some to missions).
The famous novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald once complained about writers using too many exclamation points. He wrote, “An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes.” I hate to offend any of Mr. Fitzgerald’s followers, but if an article I’m writing doesn’t make me laugh, it isn’t worth printing. Besides, I think his statement would have been more profound if he had written, “An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes!” (And yes, I laughed at that, too!)
There is even a blog where people complain about the overuse of exclamation points. To all of you naysayers, I proclaim, “I spent the first part of my life without these exclamation points! So let me enjoy them in my later years of life!”
But I have another exclamation point in my life. His name is Jesus! No, He isn’t Jesus. He is Jesus! If any word in any language ever deserved an exclamation point, it’s this one. I got the exclamation point on my typewriter key in 1970, and I got the exclamation point in my heart in 1971. Ever since then, my heart always adds an exclamation point at the end whenever I see, hear or talk about Jesus! If I need hope, He is my hope (Jeremiah 29:11)! If I need peace, He is my peace (John 14:27)! If I need direction, He is my direction (Matt. 7:7-8)! He is the Lord of lords, King of kings, Prince of Peace, The I Am, Redeemer, Savior and Friend of Sinners!
Do you understand why Jesus has an exclamation point in my life? The Bible says He will come back, and many will be disappointed. They will call him, “Lord, Lord,” and he will tell them to depart from him because he didn’t know them (Matt. 7:21-23). You see, there is a difference between knowing Jesus and knowing Jesus!
I pray that your Jesus comes with an exclamation point. Forever!