When Bryan Herrington died sixteen years ago, his donated organs saved the lives of four people. One of them was Jeffrey Granger, who received Bryan’s kidney and pancreas. He and Bryan’s wife, Terri, became friends over the years.
Bryan’s kidney in Jeffrey failed last year. Terri immediately volunteered to donate her own kidney, which is now implanted in Jeffrey. The surgeon who operated on Terri said that it’s common for donated kidneys that fail to remain in transplant patients even after new ones are in place.
As a result, Terri’s kidney is sitting next to the kidney donated by her late husband. Terri says, “We are back together.”
“She was a scientist, humanitarian, wife, mother, and trailblazer”
Character brings consequences.
Last Friday, I sent this tweet: “Great news: NASA to name DC headquarters after ‘Hidden Figure’ Mary W. Jackson, their first African American female engineer.”
Jackson began her career in the segregated unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center, where she became known as one of the “human computers.” Hers was one of the stories featured in Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. The book became a popular movie I highly recommend.
In 2019, Jackson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Her daughter said of NASA’s decision, “We are honored that NASA continues to celebrate the legacy of our mother and grandmother Mary W. Jackson. She was a scientist, humanitarian, wife, mother, and trailblazer who paved the way for thousands of others to succeed, not only at NASA, but throughout this nation.”
By contrast, yesterday was the anniversary of the murder of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian assassin in 1914. In response, the Austria-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, drawing Germany, Russia, France, Belgium, Montenegro, Great Britain, and eventually the United States into what became World War I. More than nine million soldiers and nearly that many civilians died as a result.
“A risk to you is not just isolated to you”
This week, we’ll focus on God’s call to godly character and its consequences for our culture in these hard days. This theme was sparked by news over the weekend that coronavirus infections are spiking to new highs in states and communities across the country.
Apparently, many have grown less afraid of contracting the disease. But, as Dr. Anthony Fauci told a press conference on Friday, “A risk to you is not just isolated to you. Because if you get infected, you are part, innocently or inadvertently, of propagating the dynamic process of the pandemic.
“Because the chances are, if you get infected, you’re going to infect someone else. . . . When you do that, you are part of a process. When you get infected, you will infect someone else, who clearly will infect someone else. . . . Ultimately, you will infect somebody who is vulnerable. That may be somebody’s grandmother or grandfather, an uncle who’s on chemotherapy and who’s on radiation, or a child who has leukemia.”
As a result, he said, “You have an individual responsibility to yourself, but you have a societal responsibility. . . . The only way we are going to end [the pandemic] is by ending it together.”
“He is like a tree planted by water”
Character brings consequences: “Your wealth and all your treasures I will give for spoil as the price of your high places for sin throughout all your territory. . . . Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord‘” (Jeremiah 17:3, 5).
By contrast, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit” (vv. 7–8).
This is because, as God says, “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds” (v. 10). Such consequences are for this life and the next as well: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Frederick Buechner: “The New Testament proclaims that at some unforeseeable time in the future, God will bring down the final curtain on history, and there will come a Day on which all our days and all the judgments upon us and all our judgments upon each other will themselves be judged. The judge will be Christ.”
But here’s the good news: “In other words, the one who judges us most finally will be the one who loves us most fully.”
“Transformative encounters with the holiness of God”
All that God warns us not to do is for our best in this life and the next. All that he asks us to do in sacrificial obedience is for our best in this life and the next.
And the Lord who calls us to obedience gives us the strength to be obedient.
Craig Denison notes: “We as modern-day believers often grow content with so much less than what’s available to us in Christ. We grow content with programs, sermons, worship, and Bible study that’s void of God’s presence. We believe that the Christian life is one solely marked by discipline and moral living rather than transformative encounters with the holiness of God.”
The more time we spend in such encounters with our holy God, the more his Spirit makes us holy. Such character bears transformative consequences on earth and in heaven, for us and for all those we influence.
Would you ask your Father to make you more like his Son than ever before?