A couple of years ago, my aunt, Eva, who was in her 80’s, was not feeling well. A dear cousin went to visit and took her to the doctor. While there, they discovered she had cancer. Our hearts were broken. My aunt never had children. Her neighbors had been checking on her. My cousin stayed for the duration–taking her to get her hair done, preparing meals, and sharing memories, hope, strength, and tales from the past. Time went by, and she grew weaker. One night as I was crying over her, my husband looked at me and said, “do you want me to drive you to Michigan?”
It was winter and about a week or so before Christmas/ Hanukkah. I will never forget walking into the house and my aunt in a hospital bed in the middle of the living room, thin, pale, and yes, dying. I had not seen her in about three years, and when I bent over the bed, I asked her if she knew who I was. I took her hand, and she looked up at me and smiled a weak smile and said, “I’d know those big brown eyes anywhere.” She pulled me to her chest, and we embraced. “You love me, don’t you?” she said in a weak voice. “YES!” I kissed her brow as she held my head against her heart.
Sadly, my aunt Eva never spoke again, but those few words were worth the trip a thousand times over. I kept thinking, “One day my mom and her three sisters and me will be at a banquet table, and we will all be together again.”
All these lovely ladies have passed away. From left to right: My aunt Kathleen, my aunt Eva, my aunt Sophia, and my mother.
Another dear cousin and her little girl came and stayed with us. They massaged my aunt Eva’s feet with oils and moistening her dry lips with a sponge. We all sang to her and told her stories. We prayed and reminisced about days gone by–days we can never get back. And we were there when my aunts spirit left this world for another. Whoosh!
I started thinking about how blessed I was to have been there for that moment, how these hands got to be a part of comforting my mom’s sister, and about all the people who do that daily because they work as caregivers.
I have family and friends who work at Veterans Hospital–other family and friends who are nurses, respiratory therapists, nursing home caregivers for the elderly, both those with fur and without. I have family members and friends: teachers, police officers, preachers, hairdressers, window cleaners, and others who work in public, but they all have one thing in common, they are all in ministry.
Whether they’re wiping the nose of a six-year-old first grader or wiping the butt of an eighty-year-old Vet, stroking the fur of a seventeen-year-old cat, or brushing the tangles out of someone’s grandmother or granddaughter’s hair, they serve.
Sometimes they have good news. “You’re Cancer free!” Sometimes the news is rather bleak but has to be given. We try and use words to help people heal when we cannot physically touch them.
No one has to go to theology school to be a servant. No one has to become ordained to become a servant. No one needs the title of nurse or doctor to comfort a loved one in need or an elderly person sitting alone daily. None of us need to put on a suit and tie or stand on a platform to be used by the Creator of ALL. Of course, we can minister from a pulpit or podium, but we can speak those words to someone in an alley, the streets, or a store. A person wiping a tear and holding the hand of someone who just received terrible news does not need to know who all the players are in the Bible, nor do they need to act holier than thou.
Every day, in any place of employment, you and I can be servants of the Holy One. It doesn’t take much to cook a meal for someone sick, cut their hair, or read to them. It doesn’t take much to send a care package or a card to a lonely widow. Jesus/Yeshua could have skipped washing the disciple’s dirty feet. He could have skipped a journey to see a woman at a well and had bigger crowds that day and more miracles. He could have skipped two men demonized at a graveyard, but he didn’t. They were as important as the High priest who wanted to talk to him in hushed tones after dark.
All of these things I listed above can be done without one ounce of compassion or empathy, or they can be done with all the love you can muster.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Colossians 3:23).
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
“Serve with goodwill, as to the Lord and not to men. . .” (Ephesian 6:7).
Just as all of us can use our hands, feet, words, and hearts to heal and be servants, we can also use all of these to shoot people down, judge, gossip, abuse, disregard as important, or wise, or worthy of our love, attention and time.
In James chapter one, he addressed his letter by describing himself as “James, a servant of the Father and Yeshua. He could have said he was Jesus’s brother and gained bragging rights and esteem from man, fame even. I mean, his brother opened the eyes of the blind and raised the dead, but he was not interested in the accolades of man. He was a Servant.
If you hate your job today, look for another one where you can use your gifts to be a servant. Change may be just what the doctor ordered–whether it’s changing our attitudes or relocating where our gifts can shine.
Love boldly. Love without expecting anything in return, and by all means, love as if you are working for the Creator of Life.