The gift of yourself

December 3, 2011 in Question of the Week, Spotlight Answers, What are your thoughts about organ donation? by Chris Altrock

What are your thoughts about Father Val’s donation as well as organ donation in general? Have you stated your intent to be an organ donor on the back of your driver’s license? Why or why not? Do you know anyone who has donated organs or received organ transplants?

When I was in graduate school, Doug would often offer his pick-up to me before I could even ask for it. He had an uncanny ability to know when I would need transportation for myself or some item and would have the keys in his outstretched hand faster than I could formulate a request. And Doug did this for countless others. Though in debt because of school (he was a fellow student) and living on not much more than minimum wage, he gave away his truck with an outrageous regularity.

I was a few months into a new job when an acquaintance offered me and my family a free week in a condo on the beach in Florida. We couldn’t believe it. The man had already paid for the condo and a conflict came up. But rather than give it away to someone he knew better or someone with the ability to someday pay the gift back, he gave it to us. That week still stands out as one of the best our family has spent.

A few years ago I was with a small group traveling back to the U. S. from visiting missionaries in the Philippines. We were a long ways into what would eventually become a 50-hour period of travel when one of our group members surprised us. He had managed to secure first-class tickets from Manila to Tokyo for all three of us. And this was a massaging seat–personal entertainment center–gourmet food–quiet as a mouse–international first class. I never enjoyed a flight more than that one.

Like me, I hope those of you reading could go on and on about gifts you’ve received and the difference they’ve made in your life. I’ve barely touched the surface with my list. The reality is that the richness of our lives is due to the phenomenal generosity of others — especially God’s generosity. The most well-known line in the New Testament centers on this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…” (Jn. 3:16 ESV). And in one of those clutter-clearing and purpose-defining statements of Paul’s, he writes “God…richly provides us with everything to enjoy. [Therefore we] are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share…” (1 Tim. 6:17-18 ESV). God richly provides. We are to do the same. That’s the essence of biblical morality.

Therefore, I cannot think of a better expression of love than organ donation. It’s one thing to receive a pick-up on loan or a condo for a week or first class tickets. It’s light years beyond this to receive a heart or a kidney. According to the Mayo Clinic, over 100,000 Americans are waiting right now for an organ donation. One person donating his/her organs upon death can save or improve 50 lives. Especially in these lean financial times, many of us may feel we have nothing to give that will make a real difference in anyone’s life. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. We have ourselves.  Our greatest gift may be the free gift of ourselves.