What would we do without them?

Sometimes I wonder how the economy would run without the people who work for nothing. If volunteers suddenly downed tools and went on strike, would services and  industries grind to a halt? Well, it’s not likely to happen because volunteers are always with us. Have you ever wondered why that is so? It’s worth pondering.

My daughter really appreciates the volunteers who help in the Aged Care Home where she works. She sent me a lovely poem she’d written for them, and I could see there were many tasks they performed with kindness and love. They make such a difference by sharing their smiles and using their skills in a self-effacing, reliable way. It helps when people are willing to give what they have. Although volunteers don’t look for praise, they’ll surely be touched when they receive her poem and realise they’re not taken for granted.

I suggested to my daughter that she might include a picture of a special camellia along with the poem. Its name is ‘Volunteer’ in honour of all those in the world who do just that. I was privileged to receive one of these shrubs – sadly left behind when we moved house – but we bought another one. A couple of weeks ago, it started to colour up – rather premature, as camellias don’t usually begin to flower for a while yet. But I suppose lots of volunteers can be relied upon to be early! And some paid workers are even willing to turn up before starting time, or stay late to finish a task without expecting extra payment.

The word ‘volunteer’ can be used as a noun, verb, or adjective. It’s main virtue is in the offering. Nobody can be forced to volunteer, but when they do, they’re freely proffering their service, their talents, and even themselves. This is so different to conscripts, who have sometimes been forced to serve in wartime. We’ve recently commemorated Anzac Day, which reminds us of the Australians and New Zealanders who fought to keep our world free. During World War One, my husband’s grandmother was shocked at the number of men who refused to go to war when her own son was risking his life in France.

There are two other integral aspects of volunteering, the first being that it’s a sacrifice. There’s always a risk when we offer anything for free. Some people, and some companies, take advantage of volunteers. The second aspect is that it’s to be given with joy! Who wants a volunteer moaning about how much they have to sacrifice for others? That kind of behaviour doesn’t fit with volunteering, or offering!

It was the same when Jesus died in our place. He did it with joy! Ahead of time, he saw the wonderful results. Many people don’t appreciate what he did for them; some don’t know yet. Jesus only needed to die once, but his sacrifice is still available to all who haven’t heard about it. What a wonderful Saviour!

The Bible says – But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins – Hebrews 7:27. He told the Pharisees that he’d lay down his life of his own accord – John 10: 17-18.

So what about that question? Will we always have volunteers with us? Even in a dictatorship volunteers exist, because those who are Christ-followers live everywhere, following his example, and showing the same fruit as he did. God’s love is eternal, and because he’s everywhere, it goes with him. He is love. We’ll never have to do without volunteers – and for Jesus, each of us can be one too!






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