Why Do We Give Back?

This past Thursday, I had the distinct pleasure of representing my church at “A Celebration of Life Luncheon” hosted by the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. Along with over 800 other members of our community, we were invited to this special event to be recognized for efforts in hosting blood drives all over the Greater Houston area. When I first received the invitation a couple of months ago and found out that we were being nominated for a “Celebration of Life” award, I must admit I was a little taken aback. My first thoughts were, “Why us?” Not that we didn’t do a great thing that blustery day in November by acquiring 26 pints of blood --- but it just seemed like such a small amount compared to these large scale drives that other corporations, organizations , and non-profits put together. I even wondered if they had made some sort of clerical email error in sending us the invitation but was assured by our representative they had not.

So with a somewhat selfish motive to get out of the house sans 8 month old twins, I made my way to downtown Houston today with absolutely zero expectations except perhaps to have a nice lunch and some adult conversation. Needless to say, I was a little shocked when after I checked in, that I was referred to the nominee table, and then handed a nominee “Finalist” badge for our little church. Still, in the back of my head --- what would be the chances of winning and most importantly, did it even really matter?

Once inside, we were treated to an exceptional testimony from a mother of a son with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia. Her faith in God was evident and inspiring, as was her sincere appreciation for every single person who donated this year – to the tune of over 300,000 pints of blood just in the Houston area. And then it came time for the awards. Our group award, categorized under “New Groups”, was second to last so I heard about six other stories of huge corporations, hospitals and companies who brought in 300, 1000, and one even over 4,000 pints of blood in their quarterly drives. And our church was there why? And then it was time for our category --- we were among three finalists. And to my great shock (and to the surprise of our worship leader who attended alongside me), they called our name. So yes, my fellow church attendees, you are now the proud owners of a blue vase trophy thingie with our name inscribed on it as “New Group” of the year. If anyone needs a unique flower vase for a special occasion – well, please know we have one you can borrow.

As I was thinking about it on my drive back to the ‘burbs, I can honestly say I am still not 100% sure why we were recognized. And while I am thankful for those who nominated and voted for our church, I know with a fact that we did not host this drive for recognition or to receive pats on the back about what good little Christians we are. We participated in the drive and prayed for the donors and recipients alike because of our hearts for Christ and desire to serve His People. And that got me thinking even deeper --- why was I so unsure that our 26 pints were not worth much? Because I guarantee you, those 26 pints made a world of difference to the people who received them. Over 60 people’s lives were saved because of your selflessness. T hat is not a small number. And who knows how many people may have had renewed faith in Christ or come to God once they were given that second chance at life. 1, 2, 10? One life and it was completely worth it.

How many times do we not give back because we wonder if it will make a hill’s beans of difference? I know that I am guilty. There seems to be so much despair, so many people that need help, so many people we should serve, but sometimes I don’t. Mostly because I am somewhat paralyzed by the overwhelming need. How can just little ole me make a big difference? Can you relate?

Yet as I was sitting in this room of “big wig” donors (and even the Mayor of Houston herself), it reminded me that we are just a part of the body of Christ. We may not be called ever to host a drive for 4,000 pints of blood. We may never be called to rebuild hundreds of homes on the Gulf Coast. We may never be called to bring thousands to know Christ. We may never serve meals for thousands.

But we can give 26 pints of blood. We can rebuild one or two homes in Galveston. We can bring a hundred to know Christ. We can bring a single meal to a neighbor or friend in crisis. And who knows what else He has in store for us. We give back because Christ calls us to serve His people. Whether it’s 1 or 1,000, it makes no difference to Him as long as we are serving where He calls us. And that we are not serving with an expectation of receiving accolades, awards, or recognition at fancy lunches. I know that I desire to serve so one day I can hear from my Lord, my God, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”.

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