This morning I had the privilege of taking a remarkable elderly couple I had never met before to the Doctor’s Surgery. I am a volunteer at a local charity which offers their services primarily to the elderly in our community, such as lifts to and from the dentist, doctor’s, bank, community center, etc, or helping someone with their gardening, helping single mums, etc. It is a fantastic local organisation and as with any other community initiative, the bigger the number of volunteers, the greater the impact and the lesser the need for each individual to be on call every week. To be perfectly honest, the majority of times I am on duty, it is not the person seeking help who benefits the most from my time, but it is me who gets the blessing of meeting some very wise and interesting people. Every time I take up a job for this charity, I feel blessed from above, for when I have finished and I have returned the person/persons back to their home, I ponder on what just took place and it feels like the clock suddenly stopped and as if by magic, I had been taken to a different place, a different time; I had been given the benefit of hindsight but without having run the race fully myself. I get to hear the wisdom of people who have done it all, seen it all, and their conclusions, as they sense they are fast approaching the end of their life. Every single time, I come back home with a real sense of having been given a treasure, without having actually taken part in the quest for it. Every time I volunteer to help one of these souls whose sight, hearing, speech or mobility is impaired due to age, illness or an accident, I hear God speaking right into my heart, giving me counsel, wisdom and direction for the journey ahead and sometimes a timely warning about a change that needs to be made in my life or that of my family.
The bible says beware of how you treat those who come to your door, those who come seeking for help, for you may be entertaining angels, and I have to say that as I left this couple’s house this morning, I truly felt like something special had been exchanged between us, something that was not visible to the eye or palpable to the senses, but I could certainly feel it in my heart, in my spirit. There was an aura of joy, connection and mutual understanding as the three of us parted and wished each other well for the future. I was overwhelmed by their plight and my eyes were open to a new reality, and they were uplifted and encouraged by my youth and the hope of a younger generation wishing to support and look after the older one. They gave me joy, wisdom, and love, and I left them with hope, respect and a sense of achievement and the will to conquer and overcome their uncertain future ahead.
I had never been in that part of our village before and being the time freak that I am, I decided to leave quite a bit earlier than the scheduled pick up time, to ensure I would find their house and make it to the doctor’s surgery on time. Surprise, surprise, I got there quite early and the husband kindly invited me in for a cup of coffee with him and his wife. I suggested that I would wait in my car til they were ready to go, but they insisted that I should come in. I could sense they needed some company and a listening ear and I never say no when faced with the opportunity to have a chat by an elderly person. Their experiences and wisdom are invaluable and one always comes away better off after having been around someone much older in years. Within five minutes of me going into their home, the husband completely opened up his heart to me and explained, as his wife sat on the sofa listening carefully, that she was very ill and as a result of a stroke, had lost sight in one eye, part of her hearing and speech. She was no longer independent and relied fully on her husband to get by. She then explained to me in her own words how she felt, and although her speech was a bit blurred, I could immediately see how this was a woman who had been extremely hard-working, successful and dedicated in her career, independent and stubborn, and now she was someone who had over the last few years gone rapidly downhill as her health had deteriorated. Their eyes welled up as they complained about how unfair life had been to them, as they had spent all their younger years working hard to ensure a good future together, and now that they had the time to enjoy themselves and each other, they couldn’t because of their physical limitations and health risks.
Whilst I could hear their heart cry, I was amazed at how supportive and caring they were for each other and how much laughter and joy they shared between them. It was like witnessing a young couple on their first date finding no fault but only being able to see the good in each other. It was an endearing moment that made me reflect upon my own marriage and which challenged me and reminded me to pursue such joy and bond of love in my relationship with my husband.
As I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about this wonderful couple and the regret they clearly showed for dedicating most of their lives to working and putting money aside for retirement and then not being able to actually do all the things they dreamt about when they were younger. It reminded me once again that money was never the be all end all of a happy life, of a complete life I should say, and working all the hours God sends certainly isn’t either. But this is where the difficult balance lies: Does one live for the here and now, not planning for the future, for possible misfortunes unexpectedly hitting us like a boulder falling of a cliff edge or does one dedicate himself/herself religiously to work ing and to earning a decent living so that when the time is right, and the younger generations are secure, we can enjoy the fruits of our labour and dedication? Finding the right balance in this very area of life is one of the hardest challenges any family encounters, and sadly it is one of the areas where most of us tend to veer heavily towards one side over the other.
Like so many other things wrong with modern society, I believe the lack of balance, and the fact that most of us opt for extremes, be it work, pleasure, self-indulgence, religion, politics, or any other area which becomes an idol in our lives, it always comes down to our determination to leave God out of our day to day living; our failure to trust God’s providence and His promises to not leave us or forsake us, to give us our daily bread and everything we need for our time on this earth. It is bewildering to reflect on how many of us tell each other that God is in control and that he has a purpose for our lives and yet, we continue investing the majority of the time we have each day making things happen or at least trying, ensuring everything is in place for OUR own agendas and hopes to become a reality. We pull the strings and manipulate people and circumstances to ensure it is what WE want and not what GOD wants that actually happens, despite praying for His Will to be done. And the saddest thing is that I often come across this very fact amongst the ones who operate in greater authority in the Body of Christ. There is a spirit of control and manipulation which is blinding the very people who are called to unveil the eyes of those who have not been blessed with the ability to discern what is good and what is evil in their own lifestyles; the ability to know beforehand what will be revealed as precious stones in the day of the coming of our Lord and what will be burnt into ashes and cast down like dust in the final hour.
Heavenly Father, help my family and I to always trust you with our life, with ALL of it. You have created the whole universe in perfect balance and harmony. This world, the animal kingdom and the human body alone are a witness to your majesty, wisdom and power; to the wonders of your holiness, mystery and infinite ability to establish harmony where there was chaos; to bring light out of the darkness; and breathe life into what was dead. How is it then that as your children we fail to believe your promises, to wait on your deliverance from the perils of this life? Father, may you breathe your Holy Spirit into the lives of those reading this text right now; may you answer the deepest questions that lie in their hearts; may you quench their thirst for justice and fairness; may you offer comfort to those whose lives have become sour by regret. Help us all to draw strength from our daily walk with you in prayer and from our time wisely invested in your word and counsel. Teach us to neither live just for work, nor work just so that we can live a “fuller” life or so that we can earn the blessed gifts that you freely give. And above all Father, shake us out of our complacency as the Church has made a cliche out of your utmost important decree to love you above all else and each other. Breathe into us, like a rushing wind, a spirit of combat to eradicate lukewarmness and hypocrisy in your temple. Equip your people to bring YOU out of the four walls which seek to control and manage your power, and help us to bring you out into the hearts and minds of those who desperately need you in their lives. Purge your church, as all gifts, resources and time are invested in making a name for itself; as their sole quest is to bring more and more people through the doors, instead of taking the power you have bestowed on us to the people. Open up the floodgates Lord and let your Spirit run free and inundate with joy and freedom the souls of those who are still captive. Thank you Lord that as your Spirit communes with us, you light up the way and show us the danger that we would not be able to see otherwise. All praise and glory to our Lord. AMEN
I recently saw a double rainbow just outside our front door. It reminded me of God’s faithfulness.