“There was a rich man . . . And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores . . .” (Luke 16).
A nearly blind lady sits silently in her wheelchair for hours in a nearby nursing home. Few residents there can use walkers. Most sit in wheelchairs, eyes searching for a smile, ears listening for a kind greeting—hands hungry for some gentle touch—a handshake from someone, even a stranger—anyone not in a hurry. Hours pass slowly. Days drag into weeks, months, and sometimes years, with some residents receiving no visits from family. Their isolation is briefly broken on Sunday by local musicians and church members who take turns coming to sing, pray, and play music.
Last year about this time, my own congregation came to visit and lead Sunday afternoon worship. I helped pass out songbooks as recorded hymn music began, then sat down next to one little old lady wearing very dark glasses. Though she could no longer read the print, the diminutive woman remembered words to familiar hymns. In subsequent weeks I visited with this quiet lady—near-90 and nearly blind—brightly smiling despite being a stroke survivor with weakened limbs and slurred talk. I learned her story. Orphaned as a child, committed to an orphanage, later accepted briefly into a foster home, she was eventually adopted by a family in Idaho County. She attended a rural one-room schoolhouse. She was graduated in 1949 from Stites High School. She married and had children (I have never seen them). Her only regular visitors are two church volunteers.
You might assume that this nearly blind woman, having endured much suffering, would now be bitter. You would be wrong. Instead of bitterness, she overflows with gratitude, praise to Christ—whom, she clearly sees—is the one person who never abandons her. We all fail daily to love as we ought. We may not feel ourselves guilty of warehousing family, but only Christ lived a perfect life. We mortals all need Christ’s undeserved mercy, unmerited grace, to go visit Lazarus.