It’s hard to be a savior
by Clay Gardner, major –
“I am happy that I came to work early and was by myself when I read the article.” This little note was emailed to me by the chief of police the morning the Contra Costa Times announced that my wife, Major Pam Gardner, had offered to donate a kidney to our advisory board chairman and good friend Chuck Graham. The last seven months since then have been a roller coaster of events and emotions.
Our family doctor—knowing the odds of her actually being a match—immediately told her not to get her hopes up. But she had offered sincerely. Pam told the reporter, “It’s a no brainer!” To Pam she had two options: one was to sit by and watch Chuck’s health deteriorate and the other was to do something about it. Little did she know what she was getting into.
First came the paperwork—reams of it—and then the tests. It wasn’t too hard at first. Lab work started locally, but then came an endless stream of trips across the bay to UCSF (University of California San Francisco) Medical Center. The first real ray of hope came when a bit of Pam’s blood and a bit of Chuck’s blood were introduced to each other—and they got along. But with each test came a waiting period. One doctor at UCSF called it leapfrog—and so it was. Pam would have a test—followed by waiting. Eventually Chuck would have a test—then more waiting.
Finally, last November Pam was cleared. She was declared healthy enough to be a donor. It was now Chuck’s turn to jump—but during the holidays UCSF was quiet. Not a peep. But only UCSF was quiet. Pam could barely show her face around town without someone asking her how it was going; without someone declaring their admiration and appreciation.
Oh and did she wish it would stop. Not only is Pam a private person who would have given her kidney anonymously if that were possible, but always in the back of her mind were our family doctor’s words, “Don’t get your hopes up.”
Finally, just 48 hours ago, after spending another whole day at UCSF, she got the phone call she had waited months for. The lab results were all good, all systems are go, surgery is scheduled.
It was then that Pam confided in me her deep inner turmoil. It’s hard to be a savior.” For months she has felt the pressure of the possibility of being rejected—even at the last minute. After all, she was already the third donor prospect for Chuck. All that attention, attention she would gladly have lived without, only made it worse—she just wanted to give Chuck a kidney, a new lease on life.
In Ezek 11:19, God says, “And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” (NASB). Jesus came to give us a heart transplant, a new lease on life.
In my study this morning, with Easter large on the horizon, I was wondering about another Savior. I was wondering, “Did Jesus ever think ‘It’s hard to be a savior?” When the disciples doubted? When the crowds came just to be fed? When the Pharisees tried to block his every move? When even those who believed were so slow to catch on to what he was teaching? Did Jesus ever think about the pressure? And at the last minute when the disciples took off and Peter denied him, did Jesus wonder, “What if I am rejected?”
This Easter, as we celebrate our great salvation, I have a new appreciation for these familiar words of the Apostle Paul, “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, [even before all the tests were in] Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8. NASB).