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Eyes On The Prize

Scott’s Blog – 8/26/08

Eyes On The Prize

There are certain statements we find in the Bible that have a funny way of constantly illustrating themselves in day to day life.

In today’s SRL File under “Truer Words Were Never Spoken” consider this observation from the book of Isaiah.

“ For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“ For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

The illustration of this timeless truth?

Allow me to introduce you to an amazing portrait in courage that may have escaped your notice.

Her name? Irena Sendler.

At first glance, she seems like an unlikely candidate to be anyone’s hero.

Unless, of course you were a Jewish child in Nazi occupied Poland.

During the World War II German occupation of Poland, Sendler lived in Warsaw (prior to that, she lived in Otwock and Tarczyn) while working for urban Social Welfare Departments. As early as 1939, when the Germans invaded Poland, she began helping Jews by offering them food and shelter. Irena and her helpers created over 3,000 false documents to help Jewish families, prior to joining the organized resistance of Żegota and the children’s division. Helping Jews was very risky—in German-occupied Poland, all household members risked a death sentence if they were found to be hiding any Jews. This punishment was more severe than those applied in other occupied European countries.

In December 1942, the newly created Children’s Section of the Żegota (Council for Aid to Jews), nominated her (under her cover name Jolanta[3]) to head its children’s department. As an employee of the Social Welfare Department, she had a special permit to enter the Warsaw Ghetto, to check for signs of typhus, something the Nazis feared would spread beyond the ghetto.[4] During the visits, she wore a Star of David as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people and so as not to call attention to herself.

She organized the smuggling of Jewish children from the Ghetto, carrying them out in boxes, suitcases and trolleys.[2] Under the pretext of conducting inspections of sanitary conditions during a typhoid outbreak, Sendler visited the ghetto and smuggled out babies and small children in ambulances and trams, sometimes disguising them as packages.[5] She also used the old courthouse of the edge of the Warsaw Ghetto (still standing) as one of the main routes of smuggling children out. The children were placed with Polish families. She hid lists of their names in jars, in order to keep track of their original and new identities. Żegota assured the children that, when the war was over, they must be returned to Jewish relatives.[1]

In 1943, Sendler was arrested by the Gestapo, severely tortured, and sentenced to death. Żegota saved her by bribing German guards on the way to her execution. She was left in the woods, unconscious and with broken arms and legs.[2] She was listed on public bulletin boards as among those executed. For the remainder of the war, she lived in hiding, but continued her work for the Jewish children. After the war, she dug up the jars containing the children’s identities and began an attempt to find the children and return them to living parents. However, almost all the children’s parents had died at the Treblinka extermination camp.

But this remarkable track record of self sacrifice and  compassion is not the only thing that makes Irena Sendler noteworthy.

Did you know she was also the runner up for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize?

Runner up?

Well, whoever won must have really suffered – really stood up against tyranny and oppression – at the pain of death, right?

Well, no.

The winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was former vice president Al Gore.

He won for his role in producing and starring in the global warming film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

The Nobel Prize committee evidently felt that producing a movie was of greater value than saving children.

The moral of the story?

If we do what is right, at great personal sacrifice, don’t expect the powers that be to sit up and take notice.

But never forget that God is watching.

Irena Sendler passed away on May 12, 2008. And if there was ever a person who embodied the words “she went to her reward” it was Irena.

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)

The personal impact of this story is easy to see.

Sooner or later we will go through times in our life when we feel unappreciated, maybe even ignored.

We wonder if we were gone tomorrow, who would notice, or even care.

But when we decide that whatever we do, we are doing it because we love the Lord, no one can rob us of that reward.

Jesus put it this way:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:31-40)

There is no doubt that Irena is far more pleased with the reward she has received from our Savior, than for anything she could have received from a committee in Stockholm.

May God give us the wisdom to live for the prize that will never fade away!

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