It was just before my eleventh birthday when I got the news that changed my life.
I had cancer.
I didn’t understand how this could happen to me… I had always been a healthy, carefree kid. My life consisted of homeschool, church, singing, acting, dancing, and hanging out with our family of 7. None of us could have seen this coming.
It started like this: One day, I noticed a pain in my right leg that seemed to come from nowhere. As the pain increased, I limped from the discomfort and my parents began to seek answers. Doctors told me that what I was experiencing was merely growing pains. But the pain only got worse as the months droned on.
It wasn’t until I finally got an MRI that showed a small mass just below my right knee that I was sent in for surgery where they did a biopsy of the mass. Finally, after excruciating days of waiting in the hospital for results, my family and I were told that I had Ewings Sarcoma. This is a rare bone cancer that usually occurs in children during their growth period.
So, we all know that our news feeds have been blown up with this ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It has spread like wild-fire and has brought up all kinds of enthusiastic support, concerned opinions, and ethical controversies. But this post is not really about ALS or ice buckets. It’s about something deeper that I’ve observed through watching the phenomenon unfold.
1. People like to help others. YAY. I love that so many people are anxious to rally around something that they believe will help others. One of the blessings of the internet is that we have so much more information about world issues at our fingertips and we are presented with ways to genuinely help. It thrills my heart to see people come together to help others – it is what we were created to do.
2. [In General] It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon… … without knowing where it’s going first! Social media has made it easier than ever to attach our name in support to all kinds of things by casually clicking “like” or “share”. The trouble is, clicking a button is SO easy, that many people (myself included) have at times fallen prey to supporting something they haven’t actually researched themselves. This is not a bash to the ALS Association at all – but I do wonder, how many people actually researched the org before preparing the ice water or committing to donate. Just a thought.
3. “Causes” are trendy. For once, something meaningful is actually trendy. Charities, social justice, causes, helping people – is popular! Awesome. However, I worry about what it actually means for “causes” to be trendy. Are people really donating or wearing that org’s t-shirt because they are passionate about the mission or because they know it’s cool and feel better about themselves when they do? *It’s certainly not for any of us to judge one another.* (ahem, underline-highlight-star) BUT, a good question to ask of ourselves: What is truly my motive?
4. When we all pitch in a little, something MASSIVE is achieved! The latest news says that the ALS Association has raised a little over $100 million. WOW. In about a month, 100 million dollars were raised by ordinary people all over the country chipping in a little. So often it’s easy to look at major world issues all around us and feel helpless and hopeless in solving them because they just seem too big. But look at what can be accomplished when thousands of people come together in unity over something! Not many people can afford to donate a large amount of money… but when each person donates just a little, whatever they can, it all adds up into being something beyond what each of us could do on our own. (I think there’s a bigger picture lesson here…)
5. What if… people were really challenged to do something. This is the bottom line for me. If our hearts are really genuine about wanting to help people, about wanting to end disease, world hunger, and heart-breaking issues all over the world… why don’t we really do something?
What if we took all of the good that we’ve witnessed with the ALS challenge: the great intentions, the creative fun, the unity of community, the “nominations” which are encouraging others to make a difference too, and generosity, and put that towards the calling that God has specifically given you?
Each of us have been given special talents and gifts to use for God’s glory. And as we follow Jesus, He breathes a unique passion into our heart to serve the world in a specific way. Our purpose is to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-39) – our mission is how specifically He is calling us to do that.
Perhaps you’re passionate about abolishing sex trafficking. Finding a cure for cancer. Digging wells for people without clean water. Adopting orphans. Mentoring troubled kids. Caring for the elderly. Serving the homeless. Mending broken families. Ministering to prisoners. Whatever. It. Is.
[[I challenge YOU.]] You have 24 hours to pray about this, consider what God is speaking to you, and take the first action step. It doesn’t have to be big, just one step. Then, whenever you’re ready, share your passion with others. “Nominate” (encourage) others to join you and to take up their own challenge in the callings they’ve received.
“… Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9