A truck driving away from a warehouse wouldn't usually be the lead story on national news.
This week it was! That truck was loaded with hope! It carried the first shipment of an anti-COVID vaccine. And that might be the biggest news of all this relentlessly painful year!
The virus has raged and ruled across our nation, taking over 300,000 lives and disrupting or destroying millions of lives and livelihoods. At times, this "serial killer" has seemed unstoppable. But this week - here comes the hope! You could feel the excitement in the reporters' voices.
This Christmas, the best gift won't be delivered by sleigh - but by a truck, a plane, a nurse's needle.
So the race is on. In a massive mobilization of military-like logistics, there is an intense sense of urgency. To get the life-saving hope vaccine to as many people as possible, as fast as possible. The sign on the truck said it well: "Custom Critical." With COVID, time is lives.
Just like it is with the Gospel - the "Good News" - of Jesus.
As that first truck rolled out, as the first sleeves were rolled up for injections, as one headline said - they were "Injecting hope." Whether or not an individual chooses to get the vaccine, news outlets have focused on the hope this brings to many.
But then I was sobered by the eternity implications of what I was watching. Those of us who follow Jesus carry in our hearts the "vaccine" that can forever save people who will otherwise die without it. We carry "the Gospel...the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).
But it isn't getting delivered! How that must break the heart of Jesus! How it should break mine.
We have it. They need it. We keep it.
My heart's been crying, "Where is the urgency of the people with God's life-saving Message? The only hope of a lost soul!"
It's why the Baby of Bethlehem came to be God's Son on the cross! It's why Peter declares that God is "not wanting that any should perish" (2 Peter 3:9). It's why Paul is using "all possible means, that I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22). And why, when he looks at the eternity clock, he says, "Now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).
The Old Testament prophet Joel's poignant image is indelibly imprinted on my soul: "Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will soon arrive" (Joel 3:14).
This pandemic has brought eternity closer. And elevated the forever urgency of the rescue mission entrusted to us.
We who know Jesus are the vehicles God has chosen to deliver the Hope Jesus died to provide! The only "injection" in the world that can immunize a soul against an agonizing eternity, paying the sin-penalty that Jesus already paid for on the cross!
Today, 150,000 souls in our world will go into eternity - ready or not. In most cases, probably not. 150,000 souls in heaven or hell by tomorrow. And tomorrow another 150,000. And every day that follows. While many of us routinely go about our shopping, working, exercising, studying, Facebooking, texting, streaming - never telling the people there about the Jesus who alone can rescue them from an unthinkable eternity.
Can we let this most critical mission of all be an afterthought, an option for our church, our ministry, our life? Can we keep waiting to tell people we know about this life-saving relationship with Jesus - waiting until it's too late and their eternity has begun? Can we settle for pouring the best of our money and energy into good but lesser causes? Can we be content to enjoy the comfort and camaraderie of the "lifeboat" and do nothing about the dying people in the water all around us?
This is not the time to park the truck at the warehouse. It's time to activate every resource we have to deliver the Hope. In time.
We are the vehicles. He is the Hope. They are the lives at stake.
That prayer I heard long ago is suddenly the prayer to pray for such a time as this: "Lord, break my heart for the things that break Yours." And He will.