Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 NLT
I have already over heard some of my friends and acquaintances gleefully stating that their Christmas shopping is now done or almost finished. We also make plans to give the best we can for those we love. It is a special way to remember the greatest gift ever given; God’s only Son. But as we approach Christmas “Would You Do It For One?” ministry is asking for you to give a radical Christmas gift. But you don’t need to worry, no one is asking for you to send money.
We are asking for you to consider two things. First; according to the U.S government’s most recent statistics there were 1.4 million people living in long-term care facilities in 2014. From the same sources we learn that over 60% of those residents will not receive a single visit from a family member or friend over the entire year. To put it differently: 840,000 nursing home residents may not have even one person to wish them a Merry Christmas.
But you could make a difference! You could become the person to make that statistic – 840,000 minus one! You could give an extravagant and over the top gift. You can give a few hours of your life to some one in a nursing home who has been forgotten by their friends. I can not promise you any reward but the knowledge that you are giving your best for Him. What more radical Christmas giving could there be this year?
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Mark 8:36
When tragedy strikes our plans and a sense of loss knocks on our door like an unwelcome neighbor it is easy to lose our sense of worth. But God sometimes sends encouragement to us by the most unlikely messengers. As I passed by our church in the midst of a snow storm I saw a squirrel, which had stopped by to eat a stale roll from our fund-raising banquet. Maybe his provisions of nuts were exhausted and he was surviving only on what he could find. His little plans for survival seem tiny compared to the realities of our harsh winter. But he isn’t worried and God is caring for his needs by our left-overs!
The value God places on the life of a single soul is more than the whole world taken together. A single life weighs more on God’s scales than all earth’s riches, natural wonders, and amazing creatures. For one single life, Jesus paid with the price of His precious blood. God remembers. God cares. God alone can say what is the value of a single soul!
People will sacrifice hours of every week to prepare for a 20 minute worship service at church. Have you stopped to consider how much time we could give to prepare a single Christmas musical for nursing home? They are God’s special people and an investment in sharing the love of Christ pays eternal dividends!
This morning I read Luke chapter one about the life of John the Baptist’s parents. We often forget as we hurry through this passage that God was concerned for the needs of this elderly couple. Maybe in old age they had all but forgotten their prayer for children, but God had not. God had heard their prayer. God was still working on the answer. They didn’t have to follow some special formula or begin something new. Zacharias and Elizabeth simply needed to remain faithful to what God had given them to do.
In the same way we who have grown old without seeing the answer to things we have prayed can be encouraged that God also remembers us. Neither age nor weakness alter the power of God to answer prayer. It doesn’t matter how many years pass, if we are praying something in God’s will for our lives He has heard us. He delights in answering the prayers of those the community and sadly even the church consider passed their time of usefulness. (Out of warranty as one friend of ours put it!) Miracles happen in our lives because God never gives up, never forgets and never forsakes us. Don’t be afraid. He has heard your prayer!
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. Luke 1:13