Yesterday I went to donate blood. I was standing at the desk and the nurse who checked me in said, “Today’s donation brings you to 14 gallons. That’s awesome!” My response was, “It is what it is.”
I wasn’t trying to be falsely humble, or to minimize my history of donating blood. It is just something I do, almost like clockwork. Every 8 weeks I go and donate a pint. There was a time, not too long ago, when for a short while I was concerned about my lifetime donation total, because I wanted to reach 10 gallons by my 50th birthday. But that time, I am fairly certain, is past. They give you a gift every time you achieve another gallon and I have declined gifts when they don’t have anything I have a use for. I donate blood, they give me cookies, and that seems to be a fair exchange.
But I began to think more about that nurse’s initial response to me: “That’s awesome!” Maybe awesome really was the right word. They say that donating blood saves a certain amount of lives and 14 gallons worth of donations has the potential to impact quite a few people. But one donation impacts a lot of people as well, and I’m not going to assert that there is any inherently different moral value between one pint and 14 gallons. And there are people who don’t donate blood but participate in other things that critically impact people’s lives for the better.
Anyhow, I decided to try something out. The next time I met someone I knew, in response to the passing “How are you?” question my response was going to be “I’m awesome!” It didn’t take long to try it out and in doing so I learned a few things.
One is that in saying “I’m awesome!” instead of the more mundane “Pretty good,” “Fine,” or “Well” I was making a response that then needed a bit of clarification. You can’t just say “I’m awesome!” and continue walking down the hall without saying another word to explain yourself, unless you want to project an image of arrogance and complete self-absorption.
I am not literally “awesome,” as in “I’m such an awesome presence that you and everyone else should emulate me!” But in order to say “I’m awesome” genuinely I do have to feel awesome in some way.
And the way in which I came to understood myself as feeling “awesome” was the second thing I learned. I’m not really the one who is “awesome” but my Lord and Savior, Jesus, is “AWESOME!” And he has chosen to pour out His grace, His mercy, His peace, His love, and His forgiveness on me, a sinner from the word “Go!,” which is also “awesome!”
He didn’t to it because I deserve it, because there is nothing I can do to earn His love, or to even be worthy of being in His presence. 1 John 4:9-10 says this of the gulf between humans and God, and God’s action to cross that otherwise inseparable space:
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
I am not so much “awesome” as I have received the love of the one who alone is truly Awesome. And I am grateful for the small encounter He provided with a nurse that helped me to see His work in my life in a different light. May I continue to have a greater sense of awe at the work He has done in me as I seek to serve Him, to His eternal glory.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.