|Volume 22 Number 6 June 2020||
I saw that question earlier, and my mind at once scattered into so many different directions and to all the many lessons that could be taught starting with that one question. I thought about Luke 19 and the story of Zacchaeus, the tax-collector Jesus spotted and to whom He said, “Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (vs. 5 NIV). The crowd’s only interest was that Jesus had chosen to dine with a sinner.
Then, I thought about Luke 16 and the “rich man, clothed in purple and fine linen who feasted sumptuously every day” (vs. 19 ESV). It is clear that the victor in this lesson was Lazarus, the man covered with sores, who desired to be fed with the scraps that fell from the table of the rich man (vss. 20-21).
I thought about all the lessons we can learn concerning humility and that Jesus is interested in saving sinners, not entertaining the “righteous.” Maybe your answer is found above, but when I thought a little more, I found my own answer.
If Jesus told me to stop what I was doing immediately, that He must come to my house to stay today, I’d be worried that all of my clothes weren’t hung, my floors weren’t swept and I have dirty dishes in the sink. I thought about the possibility of feeling overwhelmed because of all the work I have piled up I need to do. My “to do” list is often large, and to be honest, my list leans far closer to being reserved for my needs instead of His.
The truth is, He does want to eat with you. He wants to be in your home, part of your morning routine, on your heart while you’re driving to work, in your mind when you get home after a long day. He does want time to be reserved for Him, and if that means the dishes have to wait, the floors are left unswept and the laundry remains unfolded, He’s okay with that, too. I believe He’d much rather be invited into a disheveled home full of spiritually hungry people.
A Hoary Head Is
a Crown of Glory
October already! One of the distinguishing marks of autumn is aging plants with their browning edges and “age spots” on the leaves. They show the marks of survivorship, but no one admires these badges of courage. The bug-bitten, missing chunks of leaves; the dry, bent stems and the faded blooms are never met with appreciation for what the poor plant may have experienced. Inside each of these seemingly ugly old specimens is a story of its life in the garden. Sometimes, it also holds a seed, bulb or rhizome of a new plant that will strike wonder in our hearts next spring. We rarely look beyond the homely surface, though.
A few of my irises developed a disease and had to undergo surgery to remove the diseased parts. Then, they were left to dry completely. A couple weeks ago, I found some of the dried-out roots and planted them in pots. Later, I almost mistook them for empty pots before I saw the sad little iris root near the top of the soil.
As with the elderly, these shriveled roots hold a beautiful life within, but they sure don’t exhibit this at first glance. A young lady of my acquaintance insists that she does not like being around old people. “They smell. They look strange. They dress weird.”
Those flamingo pink, polyester, elastic-waist pants paired with the teal shirt may not make it onto the cover of Vogue, but underneath that peculiar exterior may reside a soul that has grown from her fashion-plate days to this. She may have now adopted the notion that economizing on clothing is a good way to save money for mission works. How could we guess this, unless we ask her about her younger years? The man with the strange odor may have contracted jungle rot fungus in the swamps of Southeast Asia as he served in our military forces. How can we thank him properly if we are so repulsed by that old person smell that we won’t get near enough to know his story?
“A hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the ways of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31). One friend tells me that, at the time of her dear husband’s passing, her daughter, granddaughters and their children made a commitment to have lunch with her once a week. This gives Mrs. McLemore something wonderful toward which to look and brightens her days.
How do we honor the “hoary head”? It’s not as easy when dementia or Alzheimer’s takes over, causing a person to say things that would never pass their lips in an earlier time. This condition is the cruelest trick of all. It makes people even harder to love. Yet really, it’s just a disguise! Don’t let that gruff exterior make you forget the precious person that it houses.
Nursing homes should post a picture of each resident on his or her door. Not a current picture—but one taken while they were young and in their prime. It would be a great reminder to the caregivers and families that this person was not always the cantankerous or withdrawn person that houses his or her soul. No, this elderly resident had quite a different life before being relegated to a warehouse for distributing pills and sponge baths.
They are every bit as full of life inside as my dried-out iris rhizomes. “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32).