Monday, November 8, 2010

Ministering to My Dad

I went to visit my dad the other day.  My mom is out of town for a few days, visiting my niece, on the occasion of her 18th birthday.  So I wanted to make a point to visit him while she was gone.

The first thing I noticed when I got there was that his hair looked kind of funny.  He has naturally curly hair, and it looked kind of fly-away, like he was a mad scientist.  He was sitting with two aides, and when I said something about it, they both got to work re-combing his hair so that it would look better.  It occurred to me that there is more than one reason for a nursing home resident to need regular visitors.  It's good for the workers to know that people will be coming by.

So, they wheeled my dad over to a table with me, and we got re-acquainted.  He asked about people, how they were doing.  He was a little bummed that he couldn't go and visit my neice.  (She's 18; he's 81.  "You have something in common," I said.) I tried to call my sister but she wasn't home.  (He probably couldn't have heard her, but I thought it would still seem like a good connection.)  I had brought my old copy of "Youth's Favorite Songs", which was really his songbook from when he was in Youth Group.  We sang some of those together, including, "Living for Jesus."  I also sang "Children Of the Heavenly Father." 

There was a lady sitting by the window near us, talking to herself.  At one point she started saying, "Sing a little louder!"  I said I was singing with my dad, and she said, "Still, I wish you would sing a little louder."

As often happens, we got into a little theological conversation.  My dad opined that he might die soon.  "You look okay to me," I told him.  "So you think I should keep going?" he said.  I said I thought that was okay.  "Everybody will die someday, but I think you still have some good years."

He expressed some doubts about his worthiness.  He seemed concerned that he was not good enough to be a Christian.  I read some familiar passages from Romans.  "All have sinned and fall short, but they are now justified by his grace as a gift."

"Do you trust Jesus?" I asked him.  "Yes," he said. 

"Well, then, that's all there is to it," I answered.

"You mean it's that simple?"

Sometimes I do try to make things complicated.  I mean, living for Jesus and all that.  I know it's not all about going to heaven when you die.  Living for Jesus means a lot of things for our life right now.

But actually, when I think about it, it really is that simple -- whether you're 18 or 81, whether you're living or dying, doing justice, loving kindness, walking humbly...

"Do you trust Jesus?"


Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

((((Hugs)))) God bless your dear dad, and may that simplicity get more and more real to him in coming days! And as a former long-term care ombudsman (advocate)...I cannot say how true this is:

"It's good for the workers to know that people will be coming by."

It is a sad fact that there is never really enough staff to do all that should be done for each person, and those who have visitors tend to get more careful attention.

Those who seldom have visitors lose out in more ways than one.

Elaine Dent said...

Thank you for a gentle, yet powerful, reflection.

Di said...

You and your dad have been on my prayer board for some time. Thanks for the update.

Terri said...

my mother in law is now in an assisted living residence. I agree that having family stop by is crucial...lovely visit with your dad.

Jennifer said...

I agree that it is that simple. My prayers for you and for your dad continue.