An Empty Chair on the Fourth of July

I gave blood again this week.  I’ve been doing it for a few years now.  I’m not saying this to brag.  It wasn’t my idea to begin with.  When God put a call on my life, He gave me some very specific things to do and being a voice was only one.  He called out all the stops and one of them happened to be that he wanted me to share my blood.

I wasn’t keen on the idea.  Think about it.  Who wants to give blood?  I remember bargaining with God.  I told him that I would give blood if LIFESOURCE needed my blood type more than any other kind.  I didn’t know much about blood types, but I remembered from school that some people were universal donors.

I will never forget calling LIFESOURCE and asking if there was one particular blood type they needed more than the others.  I knew there was, but I was hoping it wasn’t mine.  I explained that I had committed to donating blood if I was a universal donor.

The woman on the other end of the phone sounded older, almost like my grandmother.  She had most likely had a similar conversation with others who had walked down this path before me.  She knew exactly how to draw me in. She had a cheery way about her, and in a soft gentle voice she replied,  “Why yes, I would be more than happy to help you out.  We need all blood types, but we get especially excited about anyone who has O-Negative blood.  What type are you dear?”

I almost couldn’t speak. As my mind began to reel, I gazed into space. God knew all along! Why would I ever think I could bargain with God? I had laid down my life, I had surrendered all and if that meant giving blood then that would be the way it was. It didn’t matter that the idea of it sounded horrible or that I hated needles.  My selfish idea that I needed my blood and couldn’t share it didn’t matter.  I was brought back from the recesses of my mind by the sound of her voice.  “Hello?  Are you there dear?”

I heard her loud and clear.  My tongue felt dry and I muttered, “Yes ma’am, I’m here.” 

“Oh good, I thought I lost you!  What blood type do you have?”  She asked.

I whispered back to her, “O-Negative.”

“That’s fantastic!”  She exclaimed in an excited voice!  ” You’re O-negative! That means you are a universal donor!  That makes you special!”

I’m special!?  I sat there absorbing it all. My cell phone was lying  limply in my hand.  I felt O-Negative.  I felt ohhhh so negative.   I suspect that the woman on the phone knew exactly how I was feeling.  She calmed herself down and spoke with the soft voice that reminded me of my grandma.  “I would love to make an appointment for you.  It’s really not that bad.  They give you snacks and refreshments afterwards…”

She had turned on the charm and I could tell she was going to give me the spiel for newbies, but I cut in on her.  It didn’t matter what the perks are or if there were no perks.  God had called and I had answered.

I made my first of many appointments that day.  I suppose this will continue for the rest of my days here on earth, and I’m okay with that.  I enjoy it now!  I’m not saying it’s easy or that there is no sacrifice.  There is definitely a sacrifice, but it’s nothing compared to the sacrifice Christ made for me.

God’s children are called to be like Christ.  Jesus stood in my place and took the punishment I deserved so that I could have eternal life.  I was found guilty of sin and the punishment was death.  The Bible says that all of us have gone astray.

Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

We as Christ followers, are called to stand in the gap and help people who cannot help themselves.  That means that we must use our time, our talents and our treasures for God and His purposes.   I say “must” for my life. It is what is right for me. It is the choice I made.  I’m not alone, there  are others like me, who feel they “must” obey God’s call.  But there are many, way to many people who know that they should but they haven’t.  You know who you are.  You have a slew of excuses as to why you can’t or really won’t lay down your life for eternal purposes.  You have fooled many people, and you yourself may very well be deceived, so please hear this.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8

It’s imperative to understand, God does not force anyone to do anything….ever.  He won’t make you give anything and He also won’t make you receive anything. God gives everyone a choice!

In Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus tells The Parable of the Wedding Banquet and it tells the story of how many are called to eternal life with God but few people are willing to pull away from this life and prepare themselves for the kingdom of heaven.   It’s a choice.   God will determine if we really want to be with him for eternity not only by what we say, but also by what we do.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”Matthew 22:14

You can see from the picture above that when I went to my appointment yesterday there were a lot of empty chairs.

I sat there watching my blood flow out of my body and into a bag.   The help that someone else needed was already on the way.   I wondered OUTLOUD where the other blood donors were.  I was told that they always have a dip in donations on the Fourth of July Weekend.  This was a mystery to me.  People die everyday.   Accidents happen all the time!  The need for blood is just as great on the Fourth of July Weekend as any other day!  But in reality, the need is greater around the holidays because….people. are. Selfish!  Not everyone is selfish, and some who are will change.  Here is something to consider.

Each blood donation has the potential to save three lives. 

Let that sink in.  Ponder that fact.  Do you like being alive?  Even if you are in a crappy season of life, I’d be willing to bet you would gladly receive a life saving blood transfusion in an emergency either for yourself or a loved one.  There are people who woke up today will full plans for their lives and have already died today.

I run in a lot of circles with people who have empty chairs in their homes.   Death comes to us all.  Through old age, sickness, accidents, death comes and leaves an empty chair.  Every single one of us have or will one day find ourselves working through the heartache of losing someone we loved.

 When a parent dies the pressures of providing for a family rest on the shoulders of the surviving parent.  God designed families to have two parents, both a mom and a dad.  These parents are trying to balance work with making sure the kids got enough time from the only parent they have left.  

One of the nurses working for LIFESOURCE said that about 5 years into her job she had an emergency where she had to receive 5 units of blood.  It saved her life!   Now she has a new appreciation for the donors who come in.

What’s my point in all of this is?  There are going to be empty chairs, but we can fill some of them!  YOU can choose for yourself if you want to fill a chair.    If it was going to save the life of someone you love, would you be willing to go through a little discomfort?  

Blood donors of all types are needed every day!  YOU can make a difference, for critically ill patients, accident victims, people who need surgery and patients suffering from chronic diseases such as cancer.  YOU can choose to sit in a chair for a little while so someone else can occupy their chair at the dinner table.  YOU can be a LIFE giver!

But if anyone has this world’s goods (resources for sustaining life) and sees his brother and fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him? I John 3:17 AMPC

After my blood donation I spent the night relaxing in a lawn chair with my kids!  The park district played the movie JAWS on a big screen at the Lions Park Memorial Bandshell.  I watched our military flags fly and thought about how freedom isn’t free.  I thought of all of the military men and women who have sacrificed for our freedom.  I thought about my son who is in the Navy and prayed that God would keep him safe.

I sat there and enjoyed my kids!  I soaked in the moment knowing that it was special.  We munched treats we wouldn’t normally eat! We laughed and screamed at the scary parts of the movie!  I watched and laughed as the kids pulled blankets over their heads so they couldn’t see, only to be peeking out a crack.  At one point my youngest jumped into my lap and wrapped his little arms around me.  We sat like that for a few minutes.  When I told him he was a bit to heavy for me, he dove down into his sister’s lap!  It was hilarious!

I also spent part of my time writing this post.  I had to!  I just couldn’t get past the empty chairs!  I thanked God for the people in my life and for Jesus.  I am so thankful for my life!  I GET to sit in a donor’s chair, and I GET to sit in my lawn chair! LIFE is a privilege!  Jesus has given me an abundant LIFE!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15

YOU are herby invited

to Honor The Gift of Freedom 

By Giving The Gift of LIFE!


In my town a regular monthly blood drive is held at the Village Hall (50 S. Emerson Street, Mount Prospect, Il 60056) in the Community Center on the first Thursday of the month from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  Donors must be healthy, 17 years old and weigh at least 110 lbs. No appointment is needed and walk-ins are welcome.

To find a blood drive near you, click on the link below.

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