The Untapped Faith of Seniors

I write to you, fathers,
Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
Because you have overcome the wicked one.
I write to you, little children,
Because you have known the Father.
1 John 2:13 NKJV

One of the most overlooked resources in some local churches is the faith and prayers of its senior saints. Though this is not usually done consciously, it ends up that way through well-meaning though misguided choices and attitudes. Missions Trips or worship conferences for teens only. Small groups, segregated by age group and senior group activities that are little more than luncheons or entertainment make us feel left out irrelevant and unneeded.

The Apostle John on the other hand sees every age group as not only needed but essential in the success of the church. I love how this duo with Alanna and Percival Glover show the older hymns wonderfully sung by the youngest member of the family. May you find your voice to sing together in harmony with all of God’s family, no matter your age or circumstance!

https://youtu.be/aW-5gXNaTqk

Being a senior in the church sometimes feels like being a chaperone at a school dance. Everyone smiles and says hello, but they wonder why you are there and don’t know that you can dance too!

A Mother’s Faith – Part One

But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Mark 7:24-25 ESV

It might surprise you to learn, that in long term care facilities, there are also teen-agers in diabetic comas, twenty-somethings, who have suffered strokes and young people with lifelong disabilities who can no longer be cared for by their families. One of these I met in the respiratory ward of a large facility where I volunteered. I was going to visit a friend when I happened to glance in the open door of the adjacent room and saw a teenaged boy lying in the bed. He lay silently with his eyes closed. A lady was sitting quietly by him holding his hand so I paused for a minute, cleared my throat, and introduced myself as a volunteer chaplain.

She turned to smile, then looked back to the boy saying, “Hi, I’m Evelyn* this is my son Joe. Joey’s just seventeen.”  With that she fell silent. So I walked in and sat down. It wasn’t long before she poured out the story of how Joey had gone from being involved in church, being an eagle scout, to experimenting with drugs. One thing had led to another until the night she and her husband got the phone call that Joey had overdosed at a party. After a few weeks in the hospital, Joe still hadn’t regained consciousness and he required a machine to keep him breathing, and so he had come to the room where I met him that day.

While we sat quietly, I asked “Does he like music?” pointing to my guitar.

“Oh Joey loves music!” she exclaimed happily.

“Well he might not know the kind of songs I play, but let’s give it a try.” I suggested.

That afternoon when I played a couple of songs and prayed, was the first of many weekly visits. Though Joey’s condition didn’t change, his mom, just like the woman in today’s passage never gave up and never stopped praying. You see, the story in the Bible is not really about a little girl who needed help and today’s story is not about Joey. The lesson we all need to learn is how to have the faith of these mothers!

Stay tuned tomorrow for the rest of this story!

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

Nitty-Gritty Faithfulness

And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”  Luke 18:3-5 ESV

Lots of people I have met love the idea of visiting folks at the nursing home. However, of the dozens of volunteers who have bravely launched out on the mission with me, only a very few actually stick at it more than a couple of weeks. What they lack is not ability or even a love for people but the nitty-gritty persistence of this widow in today’s passage. In fact, Jesus was so impressed with this lady that He used her as a prime example of what it meant to be faithful. In Nursing home ministry this principle is essential. There will be difficulties, disappointments and even passive resistance to our serving people for the Lord Jesus Christ. But before giving up or giving in to discouragement, let’s take a moment or two to glean some pointers from our widow friend.

First of all, the widow clearly and completely communicated her message. She didn’t beat around the bush, try to ply the judge with compliments or pretend that she was indifferent to his response. Just like her, we need to fully and completely share the message of the love, sacrifice and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. We aren’t just there to play bingo, knit socks or plant flowers.

Though all those things are nice, we are sent to long term care facilities as messengers of the King. We must be kind but also clear, gentle but also good communicators of the gospel. Secondly, we must always be respectful. Even though she went every day to the judge’s house, she never complained he was taking too long, never accused him of corruption (though he was!) and never disrespected his authority. If we are to make any serious headway in ministering in a facility, it is a great advantage to have the staff on our side. Even in poorly run homes (And I have been in one or two) there is some good we can do if we respect the rules and take the authority of the administration seriously. Last of all, our heroic widow never gave up. No matter how many times she heard the word no, saw the door closed in her face and saw looks of pity on her neighbors’ faces, she always went back. Serving in long term care is a special blessing, some days it’s the greatest fun, but it is also a commitment between us and Jesus to stay the course. There is an old saying that goes, “If He can get it through you, He’ll get it to you.” and usually people use this in relation to financial giving. But this is also true of giving by a nitty-gritty faithfulness of service and then receiving from Jesus an outpouring of His love for those precious people who most of the world has forgotten!

Hope For Answered Prayer

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

In spite of my wife and I being both vaccinated and careful, this most recent strain of Covid finally caught up with us and for the last two weeks, our lives came to a screeching halt. From doctor’s appointments to church, almost everything we had planned was put on hold and that experience gave us a tiny insight to what life is like for our friends who live in long-term care. But whether we are facing life from inside the four walls of a nursing home or the four walls of our own home, our need for God’s help doesn’t change. There are hours we all pass through when we lose patience, tears of frustration fall, and hope seems far away. But God’s presence and His promise to take care of us and provide for our needs has not changed.

At that very moment when we can feel the dark shadows closing in around our world God stands close, waiting for us to leave our anxieties and needs at His feet. He will not force us to release our worries or pry our fingers loose from what is troubling our hearts. But He also does not stop caring for us when the cares of life press in. He will not abandon us when we feel alone. He is listening to our prayers, ready to come to our aid. He has not failed, forgotten us or written us off. His promise remains, that when we give our cares to Him, His peace will guard our minds and give hope to our hearts no matter what lies ahead!