Four weeks ago today I had a kidney transplant. I gift of a better, more normal life. A gift of friendship and selflessness and yes, love. A gift from Keith – but also from Kate and their whole family. Many might have “saved” their kidney to give to a family member who might need it later. Not Keith and Kate, they lived by faith. Reminds me of the scripture that says, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” Applying this scripture to living on the earth plane? Others first. The gift also begs the question: “Who’s your neighbor?” Who are you willing to put first?
Four weeks ago about right now I was in the ICU at Baylor waking up from a surgery that has changed my life. Yes, I’m changed physically. However, I’m more changed spiritually, mentally and emotionally. After the transplant I just can’t look at the world and the people in it the same way. I feel that my actions demand an even higher standard now — that maybe people are watching to see what I will do with this gift. There is a song that says “the world is going to change.” How am I going to change it?
Am I going to be light and salt? What gift do I have to give? I know that I’m special in God’s eyes, but so are all of you. I have no more talent in helping others that any of you. I’m no more innately good than those of you reading my thoughts. I’m not better at reaching out than the next person.
So what is the answer? I believe it to be “others first.”
We are basically born selfish in order to survive. When we are infants we demand all the attention of others simply to keep living. Others must take constant care of us. But as we grow up, as we mature, we are supposed to grow out too. Grow out of being selfish. Grow out of an attitude that life is all about us Grow out of feelings that our needs must always be met first. Of course, one of the operative words here is “grow.” People who never change from the ways of infancy are called “narcissist” as adults. Not something any of us want to be labeled. But some times we all revert to this. We want what we want and we want it now and we don’t think of the needs of others.
Four weeks ago I was in ICU at Baylor and now I home with my family leading a normal life. Going to work, going to church, taking Allison to dance and Lauren to soccer. We have a soccer tournament next weekend and Allison’s recreation soccer league will start next week. Essentially life is “normal.”
Only it’s not.
You see I have someone else living in me. Yes, there is the obvious answer: Keith’s kidney.
But then there is the one that has always been there. The one that I should be in tune with, but I’m not always. The one whose light I’m suppose to reflect. The one who’s example I’m supposed to follow. The one who put others first like no other. The one who, if we followed completely and honestly, we would have no problem growing up or out. The one who reached out and touched every life he came in contact with and continues to touch every life he enters to this day. The one that gives hope, life, light and love. The one who love all and died for all. The one who put all others first and himself last. The one that gave the gift that is better than a new kidney and that gives longer lasting life.
You shouldn’t need a kidney transplant to learn the lesson of others first. Most of us learned it long ago in a class or a sanctuary or a devotional time.
So what did I learn?
I learned that the greatest gift that you can give is to put others first. It is really what we were made for. It is what we are called to do. It is ultimately what gives us the greatest joy and the most satisfaction. It is what makes the earth a better place and what makes us most like our savior. But, we must open our eyes and our hearts in order to see where we are needed and how to respond. We must get over our fears and hang ups. And most of all we must get over ourselves and let God lead us where he would have us.
So the lesson has been learned. Now the hard part. Living it. My job, and yours too actually, is to see who and what we can put before ourselves and show the world the love of Christ.
Four weeks ago today I got a new kidney, but I also got eyes that see the world a little differently and a heart that feels for the world differently. Twenty-eight days. Four weeks. One month. No matter in what time you frame it, the world has changed — for me. How are you (we) going to change the world? Others first.