The Courage of Love
liff Nicolai was driving the school bus one afternoon as he had done since his retirement eight and a half years previously. He was a conscientious man who believed you had to take your responsibilities seriously. Cliff was about to face his ultimate test.
He was taking the students from Nuriootpa High School in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, to Angaston several kilometers away. At the upcoming intersection the bus and a truck were about to meet.
Cliff had always been heavily involved in his local church, sporting club and community. He was a man who understood the heartache that comes with the loss of a loved one. His own son was killed in a car accident twenty-three years previously and Cliff was still grieving this loss.
Whether it was this heartache he wanted other parents to avoid, or his sense of responsibility in protecting the children in his care, or a combination of both that led to his decision, we will never know. What we do know is that some witnesses to the accident, including a driver and some students, have indicated that the point of impact would have been the center of the bus. This would possibly cause the bus to roll, injuring many of the students on board.
It was at that precise moment, according to witnesses, Cliff turned the bus toward the truck and his driver's seat took the full impact.
The collision trapped Cliff in the front of the bus and the drivers of the following two buses rushed to help those on board. When the rescue team arrived, they found that although there were some injuries, all the students had survived. In part, this was as a result of Cliff's quick action. Unfortunately, Cliff passed away a short time later. It could be suggested that he had displayed the ultimate courage of love to save the children in his care.
Over two thousand years ago God, our Heavenly Father, also displayed his love for us when he sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place on the cross. This was so we could receive a full pardon and the free gift of eternal life. We cannot earn these by being good, through our good works, or by performing to someone else's standards, or any other way, but only by trusting in and accepting Jesus Christ as our Savour. He made these possible through his courage of love when he died on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for all of our sins.
When the rescue team arrived, they
found that although there were some
injuries, all the students had survived.
The tragedy of life is that too many die without having made that decision and therefore are not prepared for the life to come. Cliff's circumstances remind us of how fragile life can be, and how quickly we, too, could be confronted with a life and death situation.
Like Cliff, we, too, have to make a choice about where we are going, but it needs to be made now.
And the true message of Easter that sets the Christian faith apart from all other beliefs, is about a loving Father who still cares about you and me today! God doesn't want any one of us to be separated from him through what the Bible calls sin. He offers each person the free gift of salvation and eternal life through his Son, Jesus Christ, but we need to choose to accept it.
Jesus also had to make a choice. In fact he prayed earnestly and asked God that if it were possible, would he allow him to avoid the suffering of crucifixion he knew he was about to endure. He also prayed, "Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done."' But Jesus showed the courage of his love by choosing to do his Father's will and willingly die in our place.²
As we experience a world of turmoil, fear and terror, we can find hope, peace, acceptance and forgiveness through accepting Jesus as our Savour, and comfort through God's family, the Christian church, when we choose to follow God.
Through the funds raised by Cliff's family, the school community, and the South Australian Education Department, the recently erected Cliff Nicolai Memorial Bus Shelter at the Nuriootpa High School stands as a testimony to a man who endeared himself to the children in his care and to those in the wider community through his courage of love.
So, too, for Christians, the cross stands as a testimony of God's grace and forgiveness that was given freely for us when Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross and died in our place. However, God raised Jesus from the dead three days later, thus overcoming death itself.
And all who believe and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savour will also overcome death.
For help to receive God's gift of love and forgiveness and know for certain that you have God's gift of eternal life click on the "God's Invitation" button link below. (Note: If this article is on any website other than that of the main website of ACTS International, please click on the "God's Invitation" link at the bottom of this page.)
1. Matthew 26:39.
2. See Mark 14:36.
Written by Terry George