Have you ever noticed those ads for the American Red Cross asking for blood? That is a classy organization with high goals and a proven track record. When it says it needs blood to save lives, it means it.

However, despite of all the positive things I can say about this group, the fact remains it wants my blood. Although I’m overweight and an avowed coward with high blood pressure, it doesn’t deter these folks. They have worked with Baptist preachers before and assured me fried chicken and banana pudding does not taint blood.

So all I could do was submit to the “simple procedure” of drawing blood. I hate to say it but that needle looked like a 10-penny nail attached to a garden hose. There was no doubt I would be able to give blood because my heart was thumping like a bass drum and all the while that sweet technician just smiled. When the flow started, she made the remark I had good, thick blood. Great! I have fat blood to go along with the rest of me. As we talked, I found her voice reassuring but all I could think of was the movie, “An Interview With a Vampire.”

You have to be tough to be a sissy.

It’s a strange feeling to lie on your back and watch someone draw a gallon of blood out of you. I know it’s just a little pouch to them but to me it looked like a gallon jug. The human body only has so much blood and after you get half of it you have pretty well drained a fellow dry. I could feel myself withering up and figured I would blow away with the wind when I went outside. The sweet little tech just kept talking and thumping my arm for more blood. I just wish she hadn’t mentioned this was her first day on the job.

Finally it was over and I was led incoherently to the cookies and juice. After I had consumed a quart of juice and a half a pound of cookies they told me I had to leave. They didn’t even fall for the old fake fainting spell for more cookies.

The Red Cross uses blood to give life to others. Now what theologian can resist this ready-made parallel? The New Testament cries out that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our unrighteousness and gives us life. It is in the sacrificial shedding of blood that we gain eternal life. By our giving blood we make it possible for others to have a new chance on life.

The fact this organization has a cross for its logo is no accident. The red cross was adopted from the emblem used by Christian knights in the Crusades. A group of knights pledged themselves to the task of caring for their wounded comrades. The red cross symbolized the sacrificial death of Christ for others. These knights called themselves “hospitlers” and our modern hospitals grew out of their early efforts. So, the Red Cross’ work today to save lives has a thousand years of precedent.

The reason I have this on my mind is because I’m working up my courage again because this Saturday I have to finish renewing my Red Cross certification classes in Montgomery. I know they are going to “suggest” I go ahead and give blood while I’m there so I’ve decided I have the plague with bouts of yellow fever. This ploy should discourage that large needle and hose. Then again, this group has the best juice and cookies going, so it’s roll up your sleeve and give life.

Wait a minute. I think I’ll volunteer my wife to give the blood and I’ll just eat the cookies.

Dr. Gerald Hallmark is a retired minister living in Alexander City whose column appears here each Friday.