Throughout the course of history, in both the biblical and secular, there have been people who made unprecedented sacrifices that produced unprecedented results. Scattered throughout the sacred pages of the Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testaments, are incidents and narratives of ordinary people who made extraordinary sacrifices and reaped extraordinary results. The history of America is interspersed with people who also were very ordinary and made some unprecedented sacrifices and received unprecedented results.
The Miracle Worker
Hopefully, the majority of you who will read this column today have heard of Anne Sullivan. Anne had visual problems as a child and as a young adult, she underwent surgery that restored most of her vision. It was Anne’s unprecedented effort and sacrifices with a blind and deaf 7-year old girl named Helen Keller that earned her the name, the Miracle Worker. Her persistence and dogged determination to communicate with this child, who had lived in a world, an abyss of darkness and silence, finally proved productive. For not only was she able to communicate with young Helen Keller through manual alphabet by which she spelled out on her hand, she taught her how to read and write braille. Anne accompanied Helen to Radcliffe College and spent four years there translating lectures by manual communication. Helen Keller became one of the most remarkable people in American history primarily due to the unprecedented sacrifices made by Anne Sullivan that yielded unprecedented results through the life of Helen Keller.
The Most Decorated Soldiers of World War I and World War II, Respectively
Perhaps due to the fact that I served in the Army as an artillery man for three years (who was fortunate enough to never have to go to an actual war zone), I am very inclined to watch the Military Channel and write about or allude to military history and tactics in my sermons and lessons. The two most decorated American soldiers in World War I and World War II, respectively, were Alvin York and Audie Murphy. Alvin York was at first a conscientious objector when he finally answered the draft notification. Nevertheless, when push came to shove on the battlefield as he watched his comrades being mowed down by machine fire, he made a very heroic move and put himself in harm’s way to save the few men who were left in his company. His very extraordinary sacrifice earned him the congressional Medal of Honor as well as other medals from both the French and American militaries. Audie Murphy was likewise put in a similar situation in World War II like Alvin York had been in during the first World War. When the chips were down and the lives of his comrades were in imminent danger, Audie Murphy, giving little or no thought to his own safety and life, did an extraordinary act of heroism that both won the battle and saved the lives of his GI buddies. His unprecedented sacrifices yielded unprecedented results.
My Personal Story
Staying in line with the topic for today, I want to briefly share an episode in my life that affirms the point I am illustrating. Quite a few years ago, as I was preparing to attend a conference held at the Florence Civic Center, I was impressed of the Holy Spirit to take my checkbook with me. Furthermore, He did not instruct me how much of an offering to write a check out for at the time. When I arrived and was seated where pastors and dignitaries sat, the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly and told me to make my donation out for a whopping $10,000 and place it in the hand of the leader who was hosting the conference in an inconspicuous fashion. For a few minutes, I struggled with doing what I knew was the leading of the Lord until I finally did it and was immediately delivered from any doubt or reservation. That offering was by far the greatest one I had ever given. Not many days later, the Lord spoke to me and told me to go and find the kind of car that I have always desired. It was a Jaguar Vanden Plas. I found one at a car lot in Florence that was only one year old and had only one owner. I was instructed by the Holy Spirit to get the car on the term of making monthly payments and not to make a down payment of which my good credit afforded me. A few days later, I received a phone call from a very wealthy woman whose heart the Lord had touched to pay off the car. The very unprecedented sacrifice I made at that conference yielded an unprecedented result.
The Ultimate Sacrifice
I knew what the end of this column would be before I started to write it. The end was given to me from the beginning. In the annals of creation and history, there could never be a sacrifice that was more essential than that of God sacrificing His Only Begotten Son to atone for the sins of every human being past, present, and future who would ever live. All other sacrifices, regardless of the nature and reason for them being made, are minute and pale in comparison to the one that both the Father made by giving His Only Begotten Son to die for the sins of humanity and the Son being willing to sacrifice His life voluntarily and vicariously. Little wonder why we sing and recite songs of praise to and about Him who gave us His utmost for our highest. The Lord Jesus Christ made the most unprecedented sacrifice that could ever be made, and is reaping the most unprecedented results that could ever be harvested by way of the souls and salvation of those who believe in Him.