Saving Lives

eternity 2

sunset shadows

The other day, as part of our Professional Development, all staff from my school completed First Aid training. Whilst the course itself was quite intense, it was valuable to refresh ourselves of what to do should we encounter an emergency situation, particularly if it were to involve students to which we owe a duty of care.

Essentially the purpose of First Aid is to “preserve life” until medical assistance can be sought. Whilst we hope we never end up in a situation where we have to use CPR, or have to figure out what injury to attend to first, the course is there to prepare our minds for the possibility of such a situation occurring.

As I reflected upon the training we received, I started to think about how Christ trains us to save lives for eternity. The Bible states it plainly many times, that we are called to be the light of the world and spread the good news in order that others may come to follow Jesus.

The following verses are to do with saving the lives of others and/or remind us also that we have been saved by God’s grace.

James 5:19-20 (NIV):

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Romans 11:13-15 (NLT):

14 for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. 15 For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. It will be life for those who were dead!

Titus 3:5 (New Living Translation):

he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 10:13 (NKJV):

13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

There are many more verses I could draw upon, however, these verses speak clearly about God’s desire for us to be saved and then help save others by bringing them to Him. Whilst some people may have a ‘life or death’ soul-saving experience, others may come to be saved through a smaller incident that may not seem as urgent, but left unattended would lead them to a place of Spiritual ill-health.

The idea of First Aid training, is to equip you with the skills necessary to assist those to whom you owe a duty of care (particularly in your workplace) should they injure themselves. Out in public, if you see someone in trouble and choose to assist them, you have made a choice to take up that duty of care and must remain with them until medical assistance arrives. Whilst the patient may refuse the assistance, you may still do all you can to convince them that their situation may be life or death and that you have been trained to help them.

If we consider where we are now, in our workplace and out and about in the world, who is it that we owe that spiritual duty of care to? Who is it that may be about to drown in their pool of depression? Who is it that may be ignoring their spiritual injuries and refusing to seek help? Who is it that may require immediate intervention in order to bring them to life in Christ… eternal life?

Arthur Stace demonstrated a duty of care to the people of Sydney, Australia, by spending 35 years writing the word ‘Eternity’ on the streets of the city, over half a million times. An illiterate former soldier who had been a thief and alcoholic, he came to Christ and spent the rest of his days writing the word Eternity in perfect copperplate handwriting. Having been saved himself, he followed Christ’s instruction to save others.

Arthur Stace

Last year, I included this story in my HSIE/History program for Kindergarten. We looked at the history of Arthur Stace and how the word ‘Eternity’ was somewhat of a mystery to the locals until the identity of the author was revealed in the newspaper. We watched the New Year’s fireworks from the year 2000 in Sydney Harbour and saw the word appear on Sydney Harbour Bridge as the new year was welcomed in. After reflecting on the story, I took the class outside to experiment with copying the word onto the concrete in chalk, thus leaving a special message for the rest of the school. When we came back to class, we then created our own ‘Eternity’ artworks to be displayed in the classroom. This was quite a significant lesson and despite their youth, I felt Kindergarten were touched by the story and its significance for us, not only as Australians, but as believers in Christ.

New Year’s Eve 1999/2000

eternity

Bird banner 2

First Aid operates best when we stay up-to-date with our training and bring our minds back to all we have learned. It becomes useless if we forget the life-saving skills we have been taught throughout the course. It is the same with God’s Word. If we do not keep coming back to it, and remind ourselves of the importance of His Word as a light and guide for us, we cannot expect to save anyone’s life for eternity. Whilst some may be called to perform Spiritual CPR through evangelism, others may be called to stand back and pray for the lives of others. We each have our gifts for a particular time and place, and God has us in that place for specific people. He has appointed our duty of care and we cannot neglect those who are in need.

Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV) says,

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

So the question is this: who is it that you need to save for eternity?

 bird shadow

A currency of love

handful berries

Imogen church yard

We went to a wedding last weekend and after the ceremony my daughter wanted to wander around the gravestones. Being an old church, many of the graves were worn and crumpled. It was almost as if they had been left abandoned. Trying to explain the idea of death and burial to a child is always tricky, but believing in a loving God will at least give them hope beyond the reality of the death that lies beneath the ground.

Despite being a place that signified the ending of life, there were still symbols of new life within it. The golden rays of light from the setting sun streamed down through the branches of the established trees, and the bright red berries hung happily off the healthy, growing vines. It struck me that the memories of those who died were not to be found in this place. Nor were their spirits. How can you fit a whole life on a gravestone? Their name, date of birth, date of death, along with a “dearly beloved” or a Bible verse engraved on the stone was all that was left of a life. The memories of a life lie with the people who were touched by that life. The child, the spouse, the neighbour, or the stranger down the street.

Imogen berries 3

Imogen berries 4

Imogen berries 2

We have so many opportunities to touch the lives of others and leave the mark of Jesus’ love and light, but how often do we think of this in the day-to-day? Some people are given more time than others, some are given more opportunity. As teachers, we have this opportunity every day in the classroom. Those children will remember more of you than your Maths lesson or Science lesson. They will remember you, either for good or bad, or they will forget you, if you fail to leave a positive impression, or any impression at all. In what little time we have, we need to impact the lives of others for the better. We need to show love by caring, being positive with our words, by encouraging, strengthening, equipping, enabling and helping others. We need to teach our students to go out to do the same.

The reality of our broken world is that there will be death, and our lives will be impacted by this at some point. Every death however should serve as a reminder of the precious time we do have to actually make a difference in this world. What has God called you to do in your time here? What is your purpose? If you don’t know yet, then pray that He will reveal this to you. Pray He will give you the wisdom you need to discern your next steps in this life.

As Corrie Ten Boom said,

“The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.”

And as Christ reminds us also in John 10:10,

“…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

He came so that we could live this life to the fullest, despite the death, despite the pain, despite the struggles. To live this life to the fullest we need to give love as Christ demonstrated, to donate love as Corrie Ten Boom reminds us. In the end, it doesn’t matter what we owned, where we lived, what we saved… it matters what we gave away, in the currency of love.

Imogen handful berries