Jermaine did something that amazes many people. He became a kidney donor, to a woman he describes as “just a friend.” Jermaine met Michelle when they were both working in an office building in Washington D.C.
They would have lunch together and chitchat during breaks. One day Michelle “cried on his shoulder.” She had been on the kidney donor list for 11 months and was quickly losing hope. She told Jermaine how depressing it was to spend three days a week, three hours a day on a kidney dialysis machine. She suffered from debilitating fatigue and blackouts and was plagued by joint pain. Jermaine said, “I saw my friend dying before my eyes, what was I supposed to do, watch her slowly die?” Michelle’s mother was ill and could not donate a kidney and her two brothers were to afraid to go through with the operation.
The operation took place at Washington Hospital Center several weeks later in which an incision, nearly 15 inches long was made from Jermaine’s navel to the middle of his back. After the surgery he was hospitalized for five days.
Today both Michelle and Jermaine are fully recovered. Three times a month they get together for what they describe as a “gratitude lunch.” To this day, people wonder why Washington did it – they even question his sanity. But when one admirer asked him where he found the courage to give away one of his kidneys, his answer quelled the skeptics. “I prayed for it, and I asked God for guidance and that’s what I got.”
It’s funny, the unique and wonderful thing about a sacrifice is when you make a real one, many times you don’t even feel that it is a sacrifice. We mortgage the house to send the kids through college. We donate a kidney to safe the life of a family member. We give of our time and energies to advance the gospel…and count it all joy! At remarkable times one may even die for a friend or a loved one. Why are we willing to do such things? Surely, the reason is love does not consider any gift too great for the object of our affections. It is in this context that the Apostle Paul observes… “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
How do I measure any sacrifice I might be called upon to offer God? I measure it alongside the far-greater sacrifice He made for me that I might have eternal life. I love this reflection on God’s sacrifice by Ellen White. “O, the cross, the cross…Only the cross can measure the length and breadth, the depth and height, of infinite love, the greatness of the Father’s sacrifice for lost humanity.” EGW MS 21 1900. The only reason I can willingly give all that is asked of me is that love does not consider any gift too great for the object of my affections – the One who gave all for me. And wonder of wonders, as I measure my pitiful sacrifice against His, it does not even feel like a sacrifice. I count it all joy! I choose to give my all to the One who gave all for me. The gift and the choice are His. I only ask – Lord what will You have me to do?
Bill Ochs, Planned Giving and Trust Services Director