photo ~ Michelle Smith
I clipped three pink roses from the front yard and arranged them in a small crystal vase. These will be nice in Mother’s room…a little bit of the outdoor scenery for her to enjoy.
“Look, Mother. The rose bushes are really blooming.”
Nodding her head toward the chest of drawers, Mother answered, “Your daddy usually puts them up there for me.”
I swiped at some dust with my bare hand and placed the vase of roses next to the small T.V. that sat on the chest.
For the past year my mother has been mostly confined to her bed. Due to a severe problem with her esophagus that has resulted in her inability to even swallow water her only source of nourishment is through a feeding tube. Mother’s mobility is also limited because without notice her knees buckle and she cannot support herself to stand. My dad is her sole caregiver. It takes me twelve hours to drive from my home in Florida to the rural town in Mississippi where my parents retired from the ministry. We have discussed their moving in with my family but so far Mother is holding out to remain in her own home. One day I know this will not be possible. For now I drive out every 3 months to visit and give my dad a break from the daily care.
I help Mother with her basic needs and read from My Utmost for His Highest with her. I talk with her of trivial things and important matters. We watch T.V. together.
I organize, clean and cook for Dad. On one visit I made a big pot of turkey and wild rice soup and filled quart sized bags to go in the freezer. Another time Dad and I had a fish fry. He fried the catfish and potatoes while I mixed up the batter for the hush puppies.
I timed my last visit so that Dad could attend summer camp meeting services in Jackson. Each morning he got mother’s “tube and nutrients” going first thing. Then showered, shaved and dressed in a suit, he drove an hour and a half to Jackson to the campground. It was good for him to go and visit with the other pastors he’d known and had fellowship with for many years. He shared with me how two or three of them had hugged him and prayed for him and Mother. I could hear in his voice how this act of kindness and compassion had touched him.
Each time I drive out to visit with Mother and Dad I pray that God’s grace would be sufficient—and it always is. I pray that God would be glorified in our time together and our service to one another—and I believe He is. I have come to expect and to bear witness of God’s grace and glory on each visit.
One thing I did not pray for but have experienced and now expect is with each visit I learn a little more about myself. It is as though God shines a white hot light upon the little issues existing here and there in me that need refining. And refine them He will—and He does. It is a process however.
There is no hurried work that is God’s. We may wish to rush Him but He will not have it as He conforms us to the image of His Son. (click to tweet)
I see now with clarity what I only saw dimly a year ago. Our service for one another comes in many forms but always at its seedbed is the image of Christ washing His disciples’ feet and the holy preparation of His body by the women who served and worshiped Him. It is in the image of our risen Lord grilling fish on the fire for unsuspecting guests.
And when we give someone a glass of water or pour the nutrients into the bag of a feeding tube, when we empty the container of bodily waste, when we sponge a back with a soapy cloth, when we prepare a meal for the freezer, our service is an aspect of our worship.
Do our big dreams of ministry to the body often overshadow the reality of small acts of service to one body?
Hours after I had placed three roses in a crystal vase, I glanced from where I sat in the living room to Mother’s bedroom. There I saw the pink roses in the crystal vase and just behind them a bottle of Gold Bond Powder and a tube of Avon cracked heel cream. My first inclination was to remove the medicated powder and foot cream from sharing space with the lovely roses in the crystal vase. But that urge was quickly replaced with a stronger one from the Holy Spirit to leave them together. After all, I have witnessed on many occasions that the beautiful and the base are often interwoven.
The unlovely and ignoble things are not of the physical body nor of the practical matters, but exist in the cravings of the flesh.
So I cry out, “God, do Your holy work in me. Shine Your light upon my little issues here and there. Refine me as gold. Conform me to Christ. Perfect Your work in me…unhurried, not rushed but at Your leisure. Merge the holy and the humble within me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
(This post is linked to Finding Heaven and the Soli Deo Gloria Party.)