Another lesson in learning to obey the Will of God

I once had a friend named Jerri. I visited her at a local nursing home weekly for over a year. She passed on to be with the Lord back in March.  I know she went to be with the Lord.  She accepted Jesus Christ as her savior and became a born again Christian during one of my visits, when I read her the Bible.  Jerri had asked me to start in the book of Matthew and I did, reading to her each visit.

Jerri couldn’t walk because the arthritis she had twisted up her feet so they were not flat on the bottom, splaying each toe off in a slightly different direction. She also had a weight problem from her inability to move her body or exercise.  She lived the last years of her life on her back, taken out of her bed only for a shower, with the use of a lift. Jerri did absolutely everything, and I literally mean everything, on her back and left shoulder.

During my visits we ate special lunches together and shared  two Christmases. When I was out of state my husband filled in. He took her a bottle of pop, a chocolate chip cookie and read to her that week’s chapters from our current Christian fiction book. She loved being read to. Her fingers were crinkled up from the arthritis, similar to her toes, preventing her from holding a book or turning a page.

When Jerri died I stayed home awhile. Then one day in August the Lord told me to go back to meet another person. I thought about it, but I didn’t go.  In September He nudged me and I dropped by the home and spoke to Linda, the administrator,  about visiting someone new. It was about a week later I received the call that they had a couple of possibilities. I made an appointment and went in to discuss my potential candidates.

Even as Linda told me a little about Mary, the Lord cautioned me this wasn’t the one. I met Mary and told Linda I’d see how it worked out but I wasn’t sure she was who God had  sent  me to. Being a Christian, Linda understood. I visited Mary twice and she didn’t want to visit and told me so. But I was determined to see it through. The third visit she was asleep and couldn’t be roused. I went looking for Linda. She and another staff person suggested I consider the other possibility and we went to visit Mavis in her room. I asked Mavis if I could visit her the next week. She indicated yes. She doesn’t easily speak except for a word or two.

That day I learned Mavis is mostly alone. Her husband is deceased. She has a child who can barely take care of their self much less stand in the gap for a mother who needs someone to support her emotionally. To say I thought of you this week, or I’ve enjoyed our time together.

The Lord knows how much Mavis loves Him. He sent me to beat back the lonliness and read His word to her, indicating ‘I love you, favored child.’

The following week Mavis and I went down to the cafeteria and had coffee, something she loves, and I asked if she wanted to hear the Bible. “Yes” she said, and delight spread out across her face leaving a glow as her eyes sparkled. During our first chapter of Matthew her face filled with light that can only have come from God’s Holy Spirit and it touched my heart, telling me that for now she was exactly the person I’ve been sent to minister to and treat like she’s a child of the King, because she is. That I’m there because He has not forgotten her.

I can hardly wait to see how our friendship progresses and what the Lord reveals to me about her and about me through her.

(NAMES OF ALL LIVING PERSONS HAVE BEEN ALTERED.)

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Visiting Ms. Lil Bone

I remember becoming aware of ‘old folk’, not related by blood or marriage, with our elderly neighbor, Lil Bone. She lived down from us on the left, as you faced the road.

While I’d been to her house with family members on occasion, I’d never visited her alone until early one evening. We’d worn a path between her house and ours, some visiting her but mostly exploring the thickly timbered woods and shrub which made up most of our play environment and the area except for houses and fields carved out from it.

Up above the lower land we and our neighbors lived on, ran a small two lane road. It allowed transportation from one place to another, especially town, and it was where we ran to catch the school bus, which waited patiently as we fought the incline, legs pumping and mouth blowing plumes of frosty air, all the while envisioning being left behind.

I was nine years old and she seemed almost ancient to me. I came from a large family and one early October evening, while my mother was busy with our household, I decided it was time to visit Lil Bone. It was dark out and I shivered as I followed the path which went to her house, stamped into my memory. I was halfway there when I began thinking about my mother’s remark that she’d heard a black panther scream a few nights before. Fear settled into me as I tried to remember all the warnings about the vicious cat. I moved as far from the trees as possible, avoiding overhanging limbs as I hurried forward.

I arrived at her house and pecked on the door, anxious for her to answer. She soon did, telling me “Come in Patricia, it’s too cold for you out there.” I followed her into the kitchen and she asked if I’d like a cookie, a smile on her face. If my eyes matched my desire they must have been the size of saucers. I looked up into her sensitive, patient face and it seemed the wisdom I was searching for resided there as she stared back, handing me that cookie.

She was the first old person to touch my heart and prick the desire for knowledge that lay within me. The wisdom that can only be gleaned by someone who has lived many years tempered with the strength  received from the pain of  giving up those things in life that come only from God. A biological family, youth, then spouse, children. We talked and one thing she impressed on me was the danger of being out in the woods alone at night. My brother came looking for me and when we got home I had plenty of explaining to do, but my mother was lenient with my scolding when I think back on it.

I grew into adulthood being drawn to older people, some so tired and broken in their bodies that they could hardly help themselves. On holidays when I cooked special meals for my family, we waited until the oldest child delivered every plate I made up before starting our own dinner. I didn’t mind this because they had something so much more important to give back. I received accurate guidance and knowledge several times on which way to go when I came to important decisions and crossroads in my life.

I have also found that when I get to know someone, whether in their home or at a convalescent center, there are many precious rewards to be gained from this during future visits. All people have worth and meaning and I’ve discovered for myself God didn’t create any ‘nobodies’. There are opportunities for each and every one of us to enrich our lives by enriching the lives of a person who is waiting to meet us.

If you don’t have a personal ministry in your life consider going to your nearest convalescent center and ask to meet and spend time with someone who doesn’t have a relative or friend to visit.

This is also an excellent place to work on winning a soul for the Lord, someone who you could see again some future day.