I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4 NLT
As we were singing “How great Thou art!” at the nursing home last week; it occurred to me that some of my friends could no longer remember where they were or how they had come to live there. A few had forgotten their children’s names and one or two, even their own. But as we sang that familiar chorus; most had no trouble at all remembering the words as our voices lifted up in praise.
That experience made me remember that what matters most is not how smart we are, how much money we have in the bank or where we live; but in how much we trust in God. He has given a promise to carry us not only during the decades of our youth and strength but on through white hair and failing eyesight. His love for us is an eternal and unchanging commitment. Even if everyone else forgets, He will still take care of us. He has promised to carry us for a lifetime: and His promise is forever!
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Colossians 3:2-4 NKJV
As we face the prospect of entering a New Year filled with opportunities; challenges and unseen difficulties; I am tempted to sit down, draw up plans and set some personal goals. The weakness of plunging into this line of thinking is that it offers a temporary sense of peace while leaving the most important thing of all to side; which is prayer.
Prayer is like the patience and hope that the runner feels as he or she waits to hear the starting gun. In prayer we set our mind, not on the ticking of the clock but on the plans and purposes of our God, who has designed the course for us to run. He holds in His hands Heaven’ s stop-watch, which will mark off the seconds of our laps and record our finishing time at the finish line. He will be the judge of what matters because He is He is our Life! So let us commit to listen to His voice and wait eagerly for Him.
So what does that mean for us in Nursing Home Ministry? Why not begin by remembering that everything we do, say or give begins with Him? We are go to Nursing Home, not just to make us feel better about ourselves, but to carry the message of the Hope of Jesus Christ. He cares about the people who push their walkers or wheel through the halls and He is simply sending us to be their neighbors. We each have different abilities, personalities and weaknesses that God wants to use. He has better plans for how to reach people than we do. He has new and more creative ideas than we could ever come up with on our own. What we need to do is to wait for Him and listen for His starting gun. It is almost time for the race to begin. He promises is that we will run with out becoming weary if we wait for Him. He assures us that He will show us the path ahead if we will look up to see the heart of Jesus Christ.
Though there were no institutions like nursing homes in the days of Jesus, there definitely were the same kinds of people who lived in them. That society had no social security, government health insurance or orphanages. The poor and helpless either were cared for by family or were thrown out to beg on the street. In the Bible we read a story of one woman we will call Rosemary, who teetered on the edge of destitution. Rosemary was a widow being supported by her only son. Then the worst happened. That son was struck down by some disease or accident. The morning as she followed his coffin on the way out of the city she wept not only for the loss of her child, but also because her future seemed dark and foreboding. Then Jesus came!
Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow…Luke 7:11-12 ESV
It is interesting that village of Nain was only about 12 miles from Nazareth; but this is the only time we know of that Jesus visits there. In the same way that Nain was close to Jesus’ home, nursing homes are close by every one of us. We drive by them every day without realizing that inside those walls are people who are just like Rosemary. While some receive regular visits from loved ones, most are simply forgotten.
Easter is now past and many of us are planning where we will go or what we will do on our summer vacations. Why couldn’t we also plan to make a shorter trip and begin to visit people like Rosemary who live near us and bring them the message that God has not forgotten?
As special as the Christmas season is for most of us, who cannot truthfully say that now it has passed you breathed a sigh of relief? The same held true in our nursing home service this week. We looked back thankfully to the blessings we shared but
we all agreed to put the carols on vacation and together look forward to a New Year.It felt good to sing the Hymns and to pray God’s help and protection for whatever lies ahead. As we launched into “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” we remembered that in the year ahead some of our people who are wheel chair bound can still walk by faith. To the chorus of “How Great Thou Art” is added the voice from the heart of Judy who cannot get out a single note because of the breathing tune attached to her. In the gentle words of “Amazing Grace How Sweet the Sound” we realized that even ears which can no longer hear still listen to His voice. God is good all the time and all through every one of our years. He is good when we are young and He is good as He carries us to old age. He is a friend that still sticks closer than a brother in special ways when we can walk only by faith, sing only with our spirit and hear only His still small voice!