But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:2-3 ESV
As we approached, the little flock of sheep crossed the small gravel road and huddled together with their faces pressed against a building. They hid their faces maybe hoping that we wouldn’t see them. But after our car passed over the rutted road, the young boy acting as their shepherd patiently led them back towards their pasture. Though we had intended them no harm; the sheep did not feel safe in our presence. They did not know us and we did not know their names.
That flock of sheep that I met once in India, remind me a lot of the people I meet in nursing homes every week. They sit passively in their wheel chairs or geriatric recliners and stare. Because of our disconnected and fast paced lives; many of them have been forgotten by friends and family, except at holidays when a few come to visit. If you sense God is calling you to be involved and you wonder where to start – then begin by remembering their names. Yes every one has a name and you will be amazed as the vacant looks and blank stares turn to smiles when you call them Joe or Vera or Mary. Remember that there is a good shepherd whose name is Jesus. He is calling us all one by one. He has promised to lead us to green pastures and still waters to restore our souls. He remembers every name in every place and no one is forgotten by God!
“The problem with medicine and the institutions it has spawned for the care of the sick and the old is not that they have had an incorrect view of what makes life significant. The problem is that they have had almost no view at all. Medicine’s focus is narrow. Medical professionals concentrate on repair of […]
During song request time at our nursing home service recently; Bella raised her hand and asked; “Can we do something different today?” Then she wheeled herself to the front of our little room and plugged in a cassette player. When she pushed the play button the room was filled with the sounds of a lady’s trio from her church singing a song which she had written many years ago.
The experience was eye opening to me. As I heard the music and words I realized again that not only Bella but everyone in that room had something beautiful to give. No matter what chapter we are at in our lives today; God still has some surprises to tell us about if we will listen for them. It may be that things seem dark and confusing in your world or in the life of someone you love for whom you have become a caregiver. If the waves seem to be filling your little boat faster than you can bail them out; why not consider the words from the chorus of Bella’s song this morning?
The Raging Storm
In the midst of all this raging
Comes a loud and piecing cry
In the storm and in the tempest
Be not afraid – For it is I!
God has not forgotten us. He specializes in commanding storms and calming fears. He is with us all through every part of our journey. If we open the ears of our heart we will hear Him calling; “Don’t be afraid because I am right beside you!”On the cross as Jesus took the penalty for our sins He cried out; “Why have you forsaken me?” in order that He would have to never leave us and He has promised to be with us to the very end!
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8
Just as spiritually we need to ask for God’s forgiveness before we can go to work in His kingdom; so also we need to be careful this Winter about hand washing when we go into the nursing homes to visit. Just as having a selfish lifestyle taints everything we touch so we also need to be extra diligent when we are visiting with our friends in long term care.
Shaking hands or giving an occasional hug is an important part of what we do in nursing home ministry. Imagine the loneliness of living in a world where no one touches you without getting paid to do so? But to the normal concern of hygiene during this year’s flu season is the added alarm over the spread of the corona virus. What can we do as volunteers? One idea is to sit home huddled in our room with a box of hand sanitizing wipes until Spring. But imagine if all of the doctors and nurses took that approach! Our resident’s spiritual needs are no less important than their medical ones but as we go to our normal visits; there are some things we mustpay attention to.
These simple steps are not just a matter of routine. They may save a life. As I was taught we need to gel in and gel out with hand sanitizer when entering and leaving a residence hall. Secondly I am sure to wash with soap and warm water (Including my wrists) before leaving home and on my return. Last of all be sure to always ask the staff before entering individual resident’s quarters. I am a regular in room visitor to people however I have never gone in to pray, sing for or visit anyone without an invitation. That protects not only the residents but also yourself from unneeded risks. Here is a simple and fun video you can watch and share. Have a blessed day and don’t forget to wash those hands!