I’m gonna be up front with y’all…I love the Harry Potter books and movies. I don’t understand the whole fuss that’s made in Christian circles about these books, and frankly I’m not prepared to debate the theology of HP so don’t even go there. To me (a 30+ woman who’s been a Christian a very long time) they are just fun books and movies; and while I certainly wouldn’t read them to children under the age of 8, I think, that like anything else, kids should be exposed to all kinds of literature – especially literature that stretches their minds, and creates talking points for Christianity and Christ. All that being said, I’m going to move on to the topic of today’s post…blood.
Last year, the American Red Cross held a blood drive at my place of employment. I am a big supporter of the ARC, so I naturally got in line to donate two pints of blood (yes, I’m a real giver!). The wait was quite long – nearly an hour, but I passed the time by perusing the stacks of literature they’d laid out, a few old magazines, and chatted with some of my fellow co-workers. If you’ve ever donated blood, you know the drill. When my number was called, I stepped behind a white curtain into a little makeshift cubicle. I was quite excited to do my part and donate, and once the pre-screening tech learned that I was willing to donate two pints she too got excited. The tech quickly pricked my finger and proceeded to ask a series of standard questions – some quite invasive and potentially embarrassing, but it looked like we were home free until we reached the last question….
“Have you spent any time outside of the United States within the past 12 months (ie. Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, Africa, etc)?” The question took me off guard, and I had to think about it for a minute. We had been on a cruise the year before, and I had to mentally calculate the time table before answering. Although it felt like it had been well over a year since that vacation, it had only been about 11 months. I had to answer, “yes,” and was automatically disqualified.
It didn’t matter that I’d spent less than five hours total in Mexico. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have to have any shots before I went on the trip, and I hadn’t had any sickness upon my return. The fact that I’d visited an area where malaria still exists classified my blood as “unsafe.” I was disappointed, and in truth, a little upset. I felt dirty, and unworthy. It was embarrassing to me to have to leave without donating – especially knowing what the pre-screening questions were mostly about.
So I skulked out of the conference room and back to my desk. I slumped in my chair and began to pout. I understood why they had to refuse my blood – in the blood business you really can’t take risks that could potentially kill someone else. But my ego had been wounded. I busied myself with my work, and pushed the humiliation to the back of my mind where it festered and simmered and nagged at me for the rest of the day. As I drove home later that afternoon, I saw the ARC bus pulling out of the parking lot and my cheeks flushed hot with renewed frustration.
Thankfully it was a Friday and I figured that I’d forget about the whole incident over the weekend. But I didn’t. All night long I stewed over the fact that my blood wasn’t good enough. I vented and ranted about it to Sam, and bless his heart, he just sat quietly until I was finished. And as I crawled into bed that night I settled into an overworked state of irritation.
As I slept, I dreamt about blood. At first my dream was about my blood, but it eventually turned to Christ’s blood. You see, we’re all mud-bloods. We don’t mean to be, but it’s the natural human condition. Our blood is ripe with sin. No matter how good we think we are, or how many good deeds we do, or how much time we spend serving others or our church or our family, we can never cleanse our own blood.
In the Old Testament the children of Israel used to sacrifice animals as payment for their sins. But the blood of bulls and goats can never cover our mistakes. God requires the shedding of innocent blood as payment for sin, but on our own we’re just too weak, too self-centered, too self-serving to sacrifice our own life. We’ve never been innocent a minute in our lives. From the time we’re born we’re selfish – seeking only to have our needs met. Babies cry when they’re hungry, dirty, sick, unhappy, needy, etc. Children constantly complain about not having everything they want, and they throw temper fits when things don’t go their way. Teenagers and adults live to serve the needs and desires of self. Seeking pleasure, self-gratification, self-importance, self-reliance, recognition, power, status, etc.
Jesus knew that we could never make the payment necessary for us to have eternal life; so he volunteered to be the once-for-all-time, innocent sacrifice for our sins. If you’ve ever read the gospel account of the crucifixion (or have even watched The Passion movie) you will have seen just how bloody Christ’s death on the cross was. He spilled every drop of his blood to save us – from the time he was taken from the garden of Gethsemane to the spear in his side, his blood flowed freely from his body; creating a trail of forgiveness. We just needed one drop of his innocent blood to cleanse our sinful self…but he gave it all.
As I awoke that Saturday morning I had a new outlook on life. It no longer mattered to me that the ARC wouldn’t take my blood. In fact, I thanked the Lord that my blood was dirty by human standards because it made me recognize that on my own I’m not worthy, no matter how good I try to be. I spent the rest of that weekend praising God – because thanks to Jesus’ spilt blood on the cross, I am now whiter than snow on the inside.