Friday, December 23, 2011

When Love Showed Up... in the Hallway of a Nursing Home

Sometimes we read about the Lord's love in His word...for us and for the world. At times, we experience it in our own lives...heart to heart with Him, personally. Then, there are times that we are witnesses to the outpouring of His love on another person. That is such an experience that I had years ago.My dad suffered a devastating stroke and was paralyzed completely on one side of his body. He was a big man in size and a man who presented himself in life, as a huge presence. In other words, you knew when he was in close proximity.  He didn't make a lot of "small talk" but you knew...when he talked, everybody listened.
He ended up in a Nursing Home, as his physical needs were too great for our family to administer his care. It was an agonizing decision, for our family, as anyone who has had to do this, knows. But it was one in which he wanted. He could see that his physical and daily needs were more than anyone could handle.
Because he was a man of few words, visiting him brought a challenge. He had no hobbies, didn't watch TV too much or read, so conversations were basically one sided. Nevertheless, I would never decide not to visit him. He was just too important to me.
One day, right before visiting him, I was crying out to the Lord on this issue. I said something like “Lord, I want to honor my dad, but truthfully it is sometimes hard to go and see him. I wish he could talk more. I am just discouraged and feel helpless. The visits are so long"
I heard the Lord asking me to make my dad a Christmas card, using my art and my calligraphy. I sensed the Lord wanted a specific scripture on the card. It also was important that I personalized it for my dad. This is the scripture, I used

“For unto you, Henry, is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord."  Luke 2:11.

My heart leaped. "Yes Lord, I can do that!" I was thrilled to have something that I could do. I was equally happy to use my gifts.
So I made the card and proceeded to drive to the Nursing Home. 
When I arrived there, my dad was in his wheelchair, waiting in the hallway. No matter how the visits were from my perspective, my dad always looked forward to the company of visitors.
I walked over to him...kissed him...and put the card on his tray. He picked up the card to read it. What happened next was totally unexpected by me.
As he read it, my dad started weeping and weeping...his shoulders convulsing. I had never seen this man, who was bigger than life to me and to many, ever cry.
I believe, that moment, my dad knew, beyond a shadow of doubt...that God loved the world; yes...but that he loved him...He loved Henry.
My dad was being touched mightily, by the Holy Spirit.
Then, in an almost urgent manner, I thought, “Lord, should I present my dad with Your salvation message?" I mean, it seemed like the perfect time. The answer I heard was “No...I am breaking up stony ground in your father's heart"
So, this wasn't the time...this wasn't the "event" we look for with our loved ones. was huge.
Love came down and reached into the depths of my father's heart. Love grabbed tenaciously to him. He couldn't resist its force and power. Love knew, as with all of us, just how to woo my dad with His love.
I almost was frozen to the spot. It was such a Holy moment, right in the hall of that Nursing Home. It was Holy Ground. I was blanketed with a weighty Presence of God and stricken with amazement, at the vastness of His love for me...for my dad.
As happens sometimes to many of us, at time went on, I was unsure if I heard the Lord right in not presenting the gospel message that day. The moment seemed so fertile.
That same loving God, who knows me so well, knew I needed reassurance.
Months later, I had a woman, that I didn't know well, come up to me at a Retreat and say this “I see a gray haired man. You love him very much. The Lord wants you to know that he is breaking up stony ground in his heart to make it supple and into a heart of flesh, to receive God's word and love"
You can imagine how comforting that was to me.
Subsequently, I would, guided by the Holy Spirit, either talk to my dad or sometimes write to him about spiritual matters...never a lot and never to overwhelm him.
The Lord ended up telling me that my dad's decision to receive him as Lord and Savior, would be private and I would not witness it.
I was given that Blessed Assurance that we long for our loved ones...for their sake and also for our hope. That we will one day be reunited with them again, as we celebrate life...face to face with our Savior.

by Linda Maynard

Weekly Bible Readings

Monday... December 19 2011...Isaiah 43:1-7
Tuesday...December 20 2011...Psalm 118
Wednesday...December 21 2011...Romans 8:31-39
Thursday...December 22 2011...1John 4:7-21
Friday...December 23 2011...Isaiah 9:6-7



1 comment:

Jenna Vick Silliman said...

Beautiful and moving. Thanks for sharing! God is so good.