On Mondays, I've been driving up the mountain to spend a few hours with a friend who is dying. His wife has to work and feels better is there's someone in the house with K. So I hang out for a bit, make a pot of soup and chat when he feels like talking. I head back down the mountain shortly before his hospice worker is scheduled to arrive.
My friend--and his family--have thanked me profusely for this small service. But what they don't know is that I'm truly the one who is blessed. The opportunity to serve this family in this way will soon be lost and I consider it a privilege to be part of their journey.
As I puttered about in the kitchen on Monday, trying not to make too much noise and wake K. from his nap, I thought about the season when Greg and I were on the receiving end of such help.
And I remembered the remorseful words from a woman who declined the opportunity to serve us . . .
After our accident in 1984, Greg and I were in wheelchairs and hospital beds (set up in our bedroom) for four months. He'd sustained two broken legs and a fractured ankle, while I had fractured my left femur, broken my right lower leg and pretty much detached my knee cap. Greg's family took turns staying with us for the first month, but our church family stepped up took on our full care when his folks finally left.
Because of the extent of our injuries--and the fact that our two surviving children were only 3 and 6 months at the time--we needed 24 hour care for several months. I don't know who was in charge of getting all the "shifts" filled, but it must have been quite an ordeal. (Sitting with my friend on the mountain is a walk in the park compared to caring for two emotionally and physically broken adults, two small children, a cat and a very large dog).
I can't remember the multitude of ways we were blessed during that time, but I am forever grateful. Greg and I saw the Body of Christ at its very best as His love was poured out on us through our church family. Someone converted the youth van into a handicap-accessible vehicle so we could be more easily transported to our doctor's appointments around town. Wheelchair ramps were built at our front door and food mysteriously appeared in our fridge and pantry on a daily basis. People came and cleaned our house, paid our bills and walked our dog. One elderly woman drove us to the polls one fall day so we could vote.
Not everyone responded to the opportunity to minister to our family during that chaotic time. I know this because I ran into a very sad woman at a Ladies' Tea I spoke at several years after our accident. She approached me after I spoke with tears in her eyes and asked me to forgive her.
"For what?" I asked, truly puzzled. I barely knew the woman and could not imagine how she might have offended me.
"For not serving your family when I had the chance," she replied, wiping away tears. She then explained how she'd been approached to take the "night shift" with us early on in our convalesence. Several factors figured into her refusal--her busy schedule, her unease with grief and her own selfishness.
Years later, however, the Lord convicted her that she'd missed a rare opportunity to serve--and to be greatly blessed. By that time, we'd moved out of the area, but this woman had been trying to track us down ever since . . . so she could ask for our forgiveness!
I hadn't known any of this, of course, and had no problem forgiving her. But I've never forgotten how grieved she was over the lost opportunity to serve. I hope she's been able to forgive herself.
All this to say that I am the one who benefits most from my Monday visits on the mountain. I am richly blessed in the present and will have no regrets when my friend finally sheds his eartly tent.
And I'm grateful for this opportunity to pass on some of the comfort I've received along the way:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of al comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have recieved from God." 2 Cor. 1:2-4