Never in vain

Read this featured blog post by Pastor Tony Rea

Never in vain


 In 1980, a seven-year-old boy by the name of Christopher from Phoenix Arizona told his mom and dad he wanted to become a police officer. Chris was fascinated with police programs, and during any show featuring police activity Chris was glued to the TV set. Whenever he saw a patrol car in his neighborhood, Chris would glow with excitement; and oftentimes he would run right up to the police officer in uniform and engage him or her in conversation. 

Chris thought policemen were brave and courageous. He told all of his neighbors and friends, “Police officers are modern-day heroes. They save lives and help people.” Chris told everyone, “When I grow up, I’m going to become a policeman.” There was only one problem. Chris had leukemia, and the doctors treating him did not give him much hope of survival. Truth is, he was dying.

Several police officers from the Arizona Police Department heard about Chris’ condition. They learned Chris’ deep desire was to someday become a cop. So they got together and had an authentic Arizona police uniform made up for him. The uniform included all the extras: a police hat, a toy gun, and an official-looking police badge. After dressing him up in full uniform, they took him for a moderate-speed, lights-and-siren ride in a scout car and then up in a police helicopter. As you can imagine, Chris was thrilled. He told every person he met all about his police experience, and whenever he repeated the story his entire face beamed with enthusiasm.

Because of his illness and all the suffering associated with leukemia, talking about that scout car and helicopter ride was the only thing that gave him enough courage to deal with his pain. So Chris never stopped telling people about it. He repeated that same story over and over again with increased enthusiasm until the day he died. 

The joy this experience brought to Chris, coupled with the manner in which he responded to becoming an honorary police officer, inspired a group of volunteers to create a special organization called the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Ever since that time, beginning in 1980, Make-A-Wish has granted over 300,000 wishes to children and teens battling critical illnesses. These wishes have given sick children and their families hope through dark times and strength to weather the most devastating storms. For children diagnosed with a terminal illness, a wish come true can become the spark that inspires them to fight a little harder.

This very charitable foundation has literally raised billions of dollars. Many young people diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition have gone on trips to Disney World and Disneyland; they have received lavish gifts and met famous people including actors and sports personalities; and just like Chris, some were given the chance to live out their childhood fantasy for a day.

For these very special children, Make-A-Wish provided the opportunity of a lifetime—the chance to do something they could only dream about doing. Their families were prepared for what was coming, they knew there was no easy way out; however, just before death came knocking on the door, in a very caring and compassionate way, Make-A-Wish asked, “What would you like to do, where would you like to go, and how would you like to spend the closing chapter of your life?”

Friends, in a spiritual sense, we are all compelled to answer those kinds of questions, especially that last one: “How would you like to spend the closing chapter(s) of your life?” 

For the majority of my youthful readers, thankfully you still have many more chapters to go. However, let me caution you; the hands of time do not stop or even slow down. And I am now in position to tell you the last 40 to 50 years have flown by. The attitude, “I’ll do it tomorrow” is a dangerous one. According to the latest research the negative effects of procrastination can range from simply missing a deadline on an important task, to something more long-term, such as a missed opportunity that will eventually destroy your hopes and dreams.

Hebrews 3:7-8a says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…”

For others, you might already be in your sunset years, but as long as you are drawing a breath and in decent health, you still have great reason to press on in God. I appeal to you, don’t you dare go to your grave immersed in inactivity. Closing chapters of this life (the sunset years) are not an excuse to coast or to cease from spiritual activity. My dear senior friends, you are valuable and needful. Continue to roll your sleeves up and keep serving the kingdom of God. 

1 Corinthians 15:58

(One of my favorite verses; and yes, I have many faves.)

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is never in vain.

The NLT says it this way:

…be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Not at any age!