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Nov. 17th, 2017 | Rev. Don Underwood

Seeing their pictures was an incredibly moving experience. The handsome young soldier in dress uniform. The beautiful wife. The two young children. Perhaps under most circumstances I would have simply admired their smiles and natural good looks, and then moved on. In this case, I kept staring at the chest of the soldier, knowing that one of his lungs now resides in the chest of my twin brother.

Earlier this year I shared the family news that my brother had received a lung transplant that, if successful, would save his life. I’m pleased to report he is doing extraordinarily well. But there is a new chapter in the story. A few weeks ago, the wife of his donor contacted him, and suddenly an already emotional drama became extremely personal. A tragic traffic accident took this soldier’s life, but in death he saved others. Somehow it seems fitting that a man who was willing to offer his life through service to his country concluded his life by saving seven fellow Americans through organ donation.

We think of life as a gift from God, and it surely is. In this case it is also a gift from another human being. I think that paints the big picture God wants us to see. Knowing that life is always a gift and never a claim, we have the opportunity to live each moment with extraordinary gratitude, and to share life and love with one another as generously as possible.

Almost every person I know believes in the power of gratitude, but I think Jesus would say that sincere gratitude is most fully expressed by living the generous life. Generosity is what we do with our time and our money and our prayers and our gifts, but it is more than that. Living generously means living with the vivid awareness that every moment of life is pregnant with the possibility that God might use what we offer to save a life, or perhaps to save the world.