Don’t just say thanks

by Mark McDonald

Like most children, I participated in my share of role-playing games. We played the roles of doctors, preachers, cowboys and of course, cops. I remember watching shows like “Starsky and Hutch,” “Kojak” and “Baretta,” then running out to play every role we could remember.  

While police seemed to be the most prominent emergency role, I still remember watching “Emergency” for the first time and realizing that firefighters and paramedics jumped right in the middle of things to save lives.  

Many movies have been built around first responders — the people who run into the scene of an accident or conflict when most people are running away.

Then, when I was in college, I took an EMT class and got my first job working for an ambulance service. I quit playing and started realizing how amazing it is to save a life. And I began a lifelong respect for people who risk their lives for others. While I was training for ministry, I read John 15:13 in a whole new way: “No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends (CEB).”

But first responders are willing to risk their lives for more than just their friends; they risk their lives for everyone! And I know from my own experiences working with medics, firefighters and law enforcement that some of the people they help aren’t . . . well . . . very friendly! They live at an even higher standard that Jesus also challenged us to live by: “If you love those who love you, why should you be commended? Even sinners love those who love them . . . Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return” (Luke 32-36).  

First responders who get this usually say it this way: “If my family were hurt or needed help, I’d like to think someone else would stop to help if I couldn’t be there.” So they help total strangers as if they were friends, even family.  

This month, as 501 says “thank you” to our first responders, I hope we can all show our gratitude by rising up to the example of so many first responders who give of themselves to every person with whom they come in contact.  

In other words, don’t just say “thanks” this month.  

Pay it forward. Help somebody today.