Sunday, June 19, 2011

Serving with Empathy

“Is anyone here in the Mullins family?” The phone had rung in the ICU waiting room and another family had answered. Having waited recently in an ICU waiting room, I know that feeling. Dread. Anxiety. Concern. Unsure of what will happen next.

Initially, you don’t know the other souls in the waiting room, but the longer a person stays, the more days on the calendars that fly by, you become aware of the others and their stories. You may not share a common background, history, or occupation, but what you do share is a concern for a loved one whose life is holding on by a thread and a prayer.

Wednesday night, my children and I went to Calvary and made sandwiches and dinner bags to pass out at LSU Medical Center. On the way to the hospital, my kids and I prayed aloud that God would direct us. We went to the children’s floor and then to the third floor. I have to admit I didn’t really see the people we were serving. That will be my intent next time though – look them in the face, speak to each one individually, and see what God reveals to me in their faces.

It can be an uncomfortable thing to minister to the hurting and homeless, but having recently been in that waiting room reminded me that I had a hope that some of the others in that room didn’t. I knew regardless of how God chose to answer our prayers that I would see my mother-in-law again. Not everyone in a ICU waiting room has that hope, that peace, or that comfort.

I had an exceptionally brilliant aunt who was so funny and charming and unique, and anytime you spoke to her, she made you feel so important and gave you her undivided attention. She was impressed with what some people would call the small things or what people would dismiss. AND, for reasons only known to God, she was diagnosed at the young age of about 51 with Alzheimer’s. After her diagnosis and a little progression, my uncle who was a pastor would take her with him to do hospital visitations. He tells a story that just rips my heart out. During one of his visits to a parishioner who was going to lose his foot to gangrene from complications of a heart attack and diabetes, my uncle was speaking to the man when he saw my aunt begin to rub the man’s black, shiny foot. Startled by her behavior, my uncle collected his wits and asked if he could pray for him, and he agreed. After the prayer was said my aunt bent down and kissed the man’s foot. After they got outside the room, she told my uncle that the man was ashamed of his foot, and she wanted him to know he didn’t need to be ashame. Even in her condition, my aunt understood empathy and compassion. She wasn’t afraid of it.

When we serve, we are taking Jesus to the lost where they are. When we serve, we are not to judge where they’ve been or what they might do with what we are providing – THAT’S GOD’S BABY TO ROCK. If we are taking Jesus to the lost, the we must serve plugged into the source – the One from whom all blessings flow, the One who sustains us in his right hand, the One who is the Vine, the One who is the giver of life. To “Out Live Your Life” we have to move beyond our shells and take Jesus to those who are hurting and who are lost. It is our responsibility to obey and follow him, He is responsible for the results.

No comments: