I grew up in Surry County, NC. There was a very old bridge that spanned the Ararat River located there. Many feared that the bridge was unsafe and needed replacing. A local man named Hugh Atkinson decided to get involved and went on a campaign to get the bridge replaced. He talked to state officials and even wrote a letter to the governor asking him to provide leadership and do something about it. But no one listened. On February 23, 1975 a rainstorm caused the river to flood. A car struck the side of the bridge while crossing and caused the bridge to collapse. Over the next 17 minutes several cars crashed into the water. 4 people were killed and 16 were injured. Among those killed were Hugh Atkinson and his wife.
I was just a ten-year-old boy at the time. I will never forget my parents telling the story about how some locals got involved and stopped traffic. A rescue operation saved 16 people from the river and stopped many others from driving to their death. Among those who were rescued was a 10-year-old boy named Graham Atkinson. Today Graham is the sheriff of Surry County.
Two groups of people responded to that tragedy – those who chose not to get involved and those who got involved. Some thought getting involved cost too much, that it took too much time, they thought it was not their problem, or they thought someone else could do it. Those who got involved made a difference. They became heroes through a simple, selfless act of service.
Jesus said, “I did not come to be served but to serve.” Serving God by serving others through the community of a local church is exactly what Jesus has called every Christ-follower to do. By choosing to get involved you begin to fulfill God’s mission for your life, live for a greater purpose, and make a difference. The heroes who got involved in the events surrounding the bridge collapse had no idea that they would be saving the future sheriff of their county. They had no idea their act of kindness and service would make others lives safer and better in the future. You have absolutely no idea how much your involvement, giving, and service in your local church will impact the lives of others. You won’t know until you get to heaven. But I believe the influence and impact will be greater than you ever imagined.
What about you? Will you get involved? Do you think serving costs too much; that you don’t have enough time; or that someone else can do it? Why do we serve? We serve because Jesus loves us. We serve because he has changed us and because others need to know him. We serve because he told us to serve.
Get in the game. Don’t stay on the sidelines. The task is too great. The outcome is too important. God will use you to be a hero that points many to our beautiful savior Jesus Christ.