Recently my wife and I tackled a small project in our bathroom. The wallpaper having been around since the Reagan presidency had earned a well deserved retirement. My past experiences with wallpaper involved buckets of vinegar and water followed by hours of frustration and scraping. In this modern age I was advised of new and better things.
Reality set in after carefully following all directions to perforate the paper spray and wait 5 minutes. Hmmm well other than smelling differently than vinegar and costing 10 times as much the results were about the same. One hour in with 10% of our tiny bathroom finished I called Home Depot asking if they didn’t have anything stronger. A steamer is what you need for old wallpaper I was told. I wasn’t sure why anyone would remove new wall paper but I shelled out another $50 figuring this would do the trick. Weeeeeell not so much! Another 7 hours of steaming and scraping brought us to the brilliant conclusion that we should have just ripped out the wall and put in new sheet rock!
That’s exactly what Jesus has in mind for our life in Christ. No amount of steaming and scraping of our outsides has any impact on our hearts. Only on the cross as Jesus spilled His blood could an entirely new life be given us. God decided to completely remove all our past by the death of His Son so He could begin again with a brand new creation!
This month I made a new friend. His name is Marcos and he is a resident at a local nursing home. His room-mate can’t remember any family coming to visit and the aide who helps bring people in to our church service asked if I would have time to stop in. People like my friend Marcos are everywhere. What hope do we have to offer them?
“How sweet to hold a newborn baby – And feel the pride and joy he gives”
Go the lines from the Gaither song “Because He Lives” The sweetness of holding a baby is nowhere seen more powerfully than in a nursing home. Sadly there are few people willing to bring their babies in so the staff provides lifelike dolls for the residents to cradle. They gently rock their baby and their faces light up with smiles. It is almost as if God has built into us a response of hope for the future every time we see a tiny baby.
Whether sitting in a nursing facility or standing in a cap and gown waiting to graduate from high school our future hope is always in the love of God. His plans for us are to give us hope. His plans for our future are always for our good. We can trust Him till our final breathe here on earth, knowing that in a moment we will be breathing in our first breathe of heaven!
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility Acts 6:1-3 NLT
Why would God think that taking care of the elderly was so essential? Of course people with existing family were expected to take care of their own but just like today there still were many who desperately needed help.
In the first months of the early church; care for the elderly was considered so urgent that a structure was set in place to meet their needs even before the first missionary was sent to the field. Taking care of the older people wasn’t just something extra and nice for the church to do. It was treated with primary importance so much so that the apostles asked for the best and most committed people to be put in charge.
Have you ever seen nursing homes in your own community with those eyes? Maybe before the next trip to Africa, Asia or South America is funded we could focus on those God has put right on our doorstep. You won’t need to get a visa, learn another language or do a big fundraiser to reach them. Are you willing to go to the least of these?