A couple of weeks ago, Chad and I went to the nursing home to sing to a couple of residents who are members of our church. We took Emerald with us. The sweet people who live there always seem to enjoy seeing her little pigtails come bouncing down the hall. Chad took his guitar, and we sang some old hymns and asked how they were doing and if they needed anything. Both of the ladies we were visiting told us that they couldn’t think of a thing that they need.
Every time I go there I walk out with a fresh perspective.
I leave thinking about how this, right here, in places where people must live when their bodies are old and broken, this is where a true faith is lived out. This is where illness and pain and physical and mental weakness will try to steal joy and strip Christian people of their confidence in God’s plan and in His goodness. Yet, here they were. Two women, bound for glory, living a day by day faith that says I trust God.
One of the residents we played for is having problems swallowing because of a chronic illness. Her speech is just about gone, thanks to her throat problems. Yet, we sang old hymns of her faith, and she tried to sing along, her tired voice cut off here and there by her choking. Still, she smiled. Still, she let herself be soothed by the sounds that reminded her of her good God. Still, she believes.
And, I wondered about her life. I wondered how many tragedies she has faced in her years on Earth. I wondered if she knew she was strong enough to live out one last hardship. The one that will take her life. The one that has her choking in a chair in a nursing home someplace. Yet, even as I wondered I knew that God has provided her with the faith to endure. And I knew that she is holding onto His promises because He has proven Himself again and again in her long life. How could I doubt Him now? she would probably say.
And that’s how every time I leave that place, I leave with a stronger faith.
I have never understood why young people tend to call senior adults “cute.” It’s an insult to their endurance. I don’t believe in calling a man who was once a military hero or a woman who was once a young and robust mother “cute.” I don’t know why we feel that just because they have grey hair and witty things to say and they are stooped or slow moving or wrinkled that we are qualified to reduce them to the status of a baby or a kitten. The older Christians that we encounter are often showing us how to run the faith race to the very last mile, and all we can do is patronize them.
Go to a nursing home sometime and see where the rubber really meets the road in the Christian life. I guarantee you’ll have a new appreciation for all of the “cute” seniors in your life. I pray that they never question their purpose here in their last days. And, I pray that when we get there we won’t either. Because I have seen God glorified in the simple smile of a choking woman who sings His praises. He is still working there. We can have faith that He will work in her life until her dying breath.