And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17
In 1860 Edward Spencer was a ministerial student.
He was also an excellent swimmer who joined the Evanston, Illinois, life-saving squad. Spencer's skills were called upon when a ship was wrecked in a Lake Michigan storm. When dawn came, many people from the boat could be seen in the icy waters. Numbed by the cold, they clutched anything that would stop them from going under.
Spencer swam out and brought a poor soul to safety. Then he went out again, and again, and again. He lost count of the number of times he ventured into the frigid water. Each trip was grueling, exhausting. Still, his exhaustion was set aside when he spotted a lady holding onto a piece of board and calling for help.
Spencer's friends told him that he shouldn't go out -- that nobody would think the worse of him for staying safely on shore. But he went, and he brought the lady back.
His mission completed, Spencer was taken to the hospital, where he drifted in and out of consciousness. Each time he came to, he asked, "How many did I save?"
He was told, "Seventeen."
Then Spencer asked one more question: "Did I do my best?"
You tell me, had he done his best? I think I know your answer. You would say, "Absolutely, Ed did well."
May I tell you that Ed Spencer recovered, but only partially.
His health, ever after, was permanently affected by what he had done. When he died, some years later, it was noted at the funeral service that not a single person Spencer had saved ever thanked him. Not one. No one stopped by to see him or sent him a letter saying, "You have done this well."
Theirs is a mistake I would not have you duplicate.
Many of us cannot remember a time when we didn't know Jesus or when He wasn't our Savior. Because of that, it is quite easy to take Him for granted and act as if the sacrifice He made with His life, suffering, death and resurrection was something we have deserved.
Actually, we deserved nothing but eternal punishment for our dark misdeeds.
In spite of what we deserved, the Lord Jesus entered this world to seek and save the lost. In that He was like Spencer, but their stories do separate. While he could never have imagined how his life would be stripped of all vitality, Jesus knew what His fate was going to be. And although nobody thanked Ed Spencer for His sacrifice, nobody crucified him like they did Jesus.
Which takes me to the point of this devotion: let us give thanks to the Savior for the sacrifice He gave so freely to save us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the human race is frequently ungrateful. While a baby has to be taught to say "Thank you," he doesn't need to be instructed on how to be selfish and think of himself. Grant we may gladly and willingly thank the Savior whose life became our ransom. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries