Hands busy in the soapy dishwater, I glanced out the kitchen window from where I stood working. A couple blocks down an elderly couple walked side-by-side, both of them moving in a manner that told of the number of their days. As I watched them, my eyes flooded with tears while my mind flooded with thoughts. How long have they been married? What experiences have they come through? What were they like in the vibrance of their youth? I pondered these questions while internally battling the conflicting emotions they produced in me. Oh, Lord, will Travis and I have the privilege of living to a ripe old age together? What experiences will we go through in the days and years ahead? What will it be like to live in a body racked with age?…
It was late. The kids had been in bed for several hours, and I was sitting at the computer catching up on the day’s Facebook statuses. My mom, who worked as a nurse for 20 years–and in a nursing home for 19 of them–had penned a status that struck me and stuck with me: “When I visit my mother in the nursing home, I talk to so many who never get calls or visits from their families. They tell me about the loved ones they miss so much and long to ‘just get a call from them. Have they forgotten me?’ Please, if you have an elder in your life, take time to talk to them. If you don’t, adopt one as yours. Their days are difficult and lonely. You can make a difference.”
I sat in the local nursing home while the residents were being brought in for the church service which was about to start. It was my third time volunteering to help with the monthly service led there by members of my church. The times before had been only joyful and rewarding; but, this time another emotion began to play in my heart. I looked across the room full of women and men–mostly women–whom I assumed had probably known Jesus for many years, who each had lived unique lives full of real experiences, with each of whom God is every bit as intimately acquainted as He is with me. I looked at these people who needed help because they could no longer help themselves, and I began to fight back tears.
“But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.” (1 Timothy 5:4, ESV)
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8, ESV)
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27, NASB)
I have elders in my life. It’s about time I invest in theirs.