Over a year before his death, Theodore Roosevelt was in the hospital but thought he might be near the end of his life. He and his sister Corinne talked about soldiers dying for their country and Mr. Roosevelt wished aloud to have “died for my country.”
Corinne told him, “I know you wish it, but I want to tell you something. Every one of us . . . would, I feel sure, if our country were in peril, be willing to bare our breasts to any bullet, could we, by so doing, protect and save our country.”
Corinne went on to say, “The difference, Theodore, between you and the majority of us is that you not only are willing and anxious to die for your country, but that you live for your country every day of your life.”
Corinne’s words were insightful. When one puts their life on the line, from soldiering in war zones to rescuing the helpless from burning buildings, their unselfish spirit is referred to as the ultimate sacrifice. Most of us will not have occasion to make that sacrifice, but each dawn offers a new opportunity to live an allegiance to the ideal of caring for your fellowman.
Paul encouraged the Colossians to live out their commitment to Jesus and others when he wrote, “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” If all words and deeds were carried out in the spirit of Jesus, weapons could be packed away, and we could unlock our homes and cars again.
For me the daily challenge is to lasso my selfish nature, words, and pampering to bring them under the control of someone who has will power, compassion, and love for others than I sometimes cannot muster. Rick Warren writes, “Christlikeness is not produced by imitation, but by inhabitation. We allow Christ to live through us.”
But that means that I need a new me. Making things new again is a task accomplished only by the Creator. This time of year, there is much talk about spring’s newness. We see bugs crawling out from under rocks, shaking off their many feet and trotting out to do some serious spring stuff. I saw a toad emerging from hibernation the other day. He blinked slowly, trying to warm up his cold blood, and didn’t seem to mind when I got down in his face and said, “Hello.”
Spring. Restoration. Rebirth. All, reminders of Jesus’ words. “I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Renewal means to bring something back into effectiveness. Corinne helped her brother Theodore focus on what he could do instead of what he wished he could do.
In the book of Esther, her Jewish countrymen were threatened extinction. As the Queen, she was in a position to do something. She called for her fellow Jews to fast with her for three days, and then she would approach the king about the planned annihilation of her people. Her cousin Mordecai suggested, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (4:14).
Not knowing the outcome, Esther accepted her mission to approach the king. He had sequestered himself from everyone unless they had an invitation. To enter his throne room uninvited meant possible death to Esther.
The index card scripture for this week is Esther’s reply to Mordecai, when he challenged her into service for her people. Her selfless words indicate her willingness to die if she must to save others. Her words echo her resolve to put herself last. She risked her good favor with the king. She risked her crown. She risked her life. She risked all in an effort to save others. As you know, her God-blessed decision had a good outcome.
Few among us will be called upon to sacrifice our lives to save another, but deep down could we if necessary? May Queen Esther’s words give us courage to live out the smaller challenges we face each day. May we focus on what we can do, and be willing foot soldiers, willing to ease daily burdens of those who suffer.
Index Card Scripture for Week Thirteen: “And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).