Last week, I wrote about a volunteer from the Red Cross who left me a voicemail. Her name is Bethany. Bethany’s message was prerecorded. You may have received it, too.
In her upbeat message, she shared numerous perks available to anyone who came in to donate blood.
I also shared that volunteerism is in short supply these days. In that blog, I drew attention to another cross—this one being stained blood red on a hill in Calvary.
This week, I wonder if there is a correlation between Christianity being on a national decline and the dwindling number of volunteers here in the US. I didn’t do the research on this, but here’s a fact. Volunteerism isn’t pretty. There is little or no self-glory when it comes to any job any volunteer ever does.
Sure, we can show up in the tee shirt some organization gives us to wear for their Big Day or Big Event. We can invest in the passion of the cause during its big push, but the truth under the big party or blitz event (or ongoing events) is that it takes a lot to volunteer, especially if you are a leader of volunteers. Ask someone who has picked up trash for an entire day, weeded a community garden, or painted the interior walls of a home over a weekend and you may hear about aching muscles and tired feet.
When it comes to a leader of volunteers, I often think of Paula Smith. Smith heads up the Summer Lunch Box Program, a county-based non-profit that feeds children. I actually became a front-page correspondent in the local paper when I wrote of Smith a month ago. Her organization celebrated a thank you brunch for its volunteers in the church I serve.
Smith and I talk privately from time to time. One of our recurring conversations? You guessed it. Volunteerism.
The truth is volunteerism is hard because the enemy wants nothing more than for charitable organizations to fail. Any force of darkness wants to snub out light.
Volunteerism is gritty not glamorous. Forget about going to school uphill both ways as a kid in a snow storm. Volunteerism is going up a spikey ledge barefooted and barehanded.
Yet when it comes to volunteers, scripture brings us people like Tabitha. This is her name in Greek. In Aramaic it’s Dorcas. Both names are listed in Acts 9 because this volunteer—this servant—reached across various groups of impoverished people to meet immediate needs.
Tabitha is a seamstress. No great detail is given of her work. Instead, what receives focus is what happens after she dies. Her loss is so hard felt that two in the group of mourners call upon the Apostle Peter, who, at the time of her death, is 11 miles from the scene. In Jesus’ name, the apostle performs a miracle healing when he’s brought to her deathbed. He raises Tabitha to life.
He does this privately. Alone with the body, Peter invokes the name of Jesus. She rises from the dead.
Peter doesn’t return Tabitha to life for Tabitha’s sake. She’s joyously with Jesus in heaven. I believe she is returned to the land of volunteerism to remind all tired, weary, and overburdened volunteers that Jesus brings to life, renewed hope and necessary energy to every volunteer.
When servants like Tabitha, Paula Smith, and Bethany are physically and emotionally tired because hope and energy are precious commodities, there is Jesus. There is new life for all of us when we, like Peter, call on the name of Jesus.
Call on Jesus. Then serve. Volunteer. Go. Do.