My grandfather is a retired pastor and every month he holds a service at a nursing home here in Winston-Salem. While I was doing my devotions this morning he called me and ask if I would preach tonight at the nursing home. I quickly told him no because I would only have a few hours to prepare and my girlfriend, Crystal, is in town so was not sure what I was going to be doing tonight. As I hung up the phone my mind instantly starting to race about a passage or verse I could preach from if I did preach. Yes, that is the preacher coming out in me. My devotions this morning was from Isaiah 12:1-6 and verse 2 really stuck out to me as I starting thinking about what I could preach. The verse says, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” As I thought about that verse God reminded me of four important truths found within it: God is our salvation, we can trust in God and not be afraid, God is our strength, and God has become our salvation meaning as we go through life our salvation and God means more and more to us. Since God showed me those four things I figured I would call my grandfather and told him I would preach. Plus, one of my professors at Piedmont, Dr. White, told us to preach in nursing home because it is good experience. Since God gave me something to preach and had this opportunity to get another preaching opportunity under my belt I went to preach at the nursing home tonight. The service and the message went great, but I got more out of it than I planned. By the end of the night I learned two lessons and God gave me a huge blessing. I will give the two lessons first than the blessing last.
We all no matter the age need Biblical truth and teaching from the Word of God. Even though there were only a handful of older folks that showed up, it was neat to see that some still came. This service is not a required thing these people have to come to, but they come on their own. Now I know that many of them probably come because they have nothing else to do, but some did show a eagerness to learn and my grandfather told me that many of them have been coming faithfully for awhile. This just reminded me that we all, not what the age or place we are in, need Biblical truth taught to us. It might be the congregation on Sundays, or the prisoners in the local prison, or even the older people at the nursery home, we all need truth, God’s truth taught to us.
There is a need for community for every age and in every place. It was encouraging to see the small community that was within the walls of this nursing home. I noticed it as the old people in the service shared prayer requests and were praying for one another. They also where talking about others that where not there that they missed. It was evident they cared and was in community together. We often think of community as something that happens within a local church body. That is true, we should be in community with everyone in our local church as well as believers in other areas of our life. I believe a lack of true, Biblical community is what causes many Christians to not grow or ever increase in love for God and others around them. In his book Vintage Church, Mark Driscoll talks about the idea that there needs to be relational unity within the church. He says relational unity means “that people love one another and demonstrate it by being cordial, respectful, friendly, and kind in their interpersonal interactions.” I saw this perfectly when one lady got up multiple times to help others ladies find the page number of the hymn we were singing. When I saw this, it was encouraging as well as convicting that I need to show this type of love for others in my life.
Now to the blessing. The lady that was helping other ladies find the page numbers of the hymns was the person God used to give me a blessing. I noticed that she never talked and even when helping others she never spoke a word. While I was preaching she never really showed any signs that she was even listening to me and seemed zoned out. Now most of the people there was not giving me any signs they were listening so it did not phase me. When I got done preaching I noticed she was typing on a keyboard that had a small screen at the top. I thought it was just a “toy” that kept her busy, but soon found out it was much more than a “toy.” She came up to me after the service and handed me the “toy” and on the screen it said, “I appreciated what you said. Thank you for what you said. I was listening to you.” When I read that my heart sake. When I though she was not listening to, she was clearly listening and was such an encouragement for just typing that out and showing it to me. Many of us who can speak fine will not speak a word of encouragement to others, but this lady who could not speak typed out an encouragement and showed it to me. She walk me, my family, and my girlfriend out to the front door and gave us all hugs and kissed us on check and shoulder. Her act of kindness, her warmth of love, and friendliness was such a huge blessing to me. As I was walking out of that nursing home I felt the Lord was reminding me that He will use whomever and whatever He wishes to encourage and bless us. Tonight was a great experience. I would encourage all young preachers or men in Bible college as I am preparing to preach to preach a few times in a nursing home. And for all of us, when we are lest expecting it, God can encourage us in ways we never thought.