October 18, 2023
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It was four months after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center a moving postscript was added to the accounts of rescue heroism that we had already heard. Some 343 firefighters lost their lives on September 11, going in to rescue people at a time when everyone else was fleeing. But a subsequent review of the fatalities actually revealed that sixty of those who died were "off duty" when they rushed into the burning towers. Some of the firefighters who gave their lives that day had been home or working second jobs when they heard about the fires at the towers and they sped to the scene in taxis or in their own cars. A fire department spokesman said, "Those who were 'off duty' joined those who were already working in a valiant and courageous effort to save as many lives as possible." Wow!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Never Off Duty."
That actually is the mindset of someone who's concerned about saving lives. You're not always rescuing, but you're never "off duty" when it's time for a rescue. That's a powerful picture of a follower of Jesus Christ whose life is truly available for Christ's service. You never go "off duty." Not when lives are at stake.
Paul, the early church's greatest rescuer, gave that kind of instruction to an up-and-coming rescuer. His name was Timothy. We're in 2 Timothy 4:2, our word for today from the Word of God. Here's what Paul says, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season." See, you never know when the opportunity is going to pop up to talk about having a relationship with Jesus Christ or to reach out and let someone else see Christ in some way that you love them. You can't schedule those things. And you don't just do it when it's your "job" to do it - when you're "on duty."
You never know when the call is going to come from your Lord, when He says through His Holy Spirit, "Hey, there's a life right there that needs a rescuer right now. I've opened the door. There's an opportunity here, my son, my daughter. You have a chance to speak for your Jesus. I'm sending you to that person right now."
This doesn't mean you don't follow God's command to take time off or to focus on your primary ministry (your family), or to take care of your everyday responsibilities. They're part of your life's work, too. But this "never off duty" mindset means you're always open to the opportunities in your everyday life to represent Jesus. Actually, you go into your day looking for, praying for those opportunities. And you're flexible enough to drop what you're doing when the summons comes from Headquarters to touch a life with God's redeeming love...always on call, always on assignment, always like a policeman in his patrol car, ready to hear from the dispatcher.
Maybe you've seen those city buses that have a sign on the front, "Out of Service." Well, let me tell you, if you understand what it means to belong to Jesus Christ, you are never "out of service." Those who have joined Jesus in the spiritual rescue mission for which He came, for which He died, just don't go "off duty," not when there are lives at stake.
No matter how uncomfortable they are, no matter how weary they are, no matter how they're feeling, no matter how risky it is, that tragic day at the burning World Trade Center, people showed up to make a difference who didn't have to be there. But they were rescuers. They knew that when lives are at stake, you drop everything to do whatever you can to save a life.
Well, can those whose job it is to rescue people for all eternity do anything less?