Before You Know It

It was kind of neat the other day, when Dad was being moved from the hospital to the rehabilitation facility, when we found out that the transfer officer was a distant cousin of his. She started by asking if Dad was kin to certain people to whom she was also related. I was glad before she revealed that she was related to us that we didn’t say anything negative about any of these folks. It’s like they say in some congregations: “Don’t be talking behind anyone’s back, because everyone’s kin.”

We moved on to the rehabilitation center. You meet some really quality folks in a physical therapy rehabilitation center. I’ve been a resident in a little corner of my dad’s room now for quite some time. We’re very close friends now, Dad and I. It’s kind of funny….When I’m here with him I think about all the things I really need to be accomplishing at home, but when I head toward home or on a trip for a couple of days while one of my sisters comes to stay, I immediately start wishing I was back here with Dad. I guess that will be one very good thing about heaven. We’ll get to be in every place we want to be at one time, because all of the saved will be in THE ultimate place together.

One day this past week, I was in the room with Dad and three of the staff members were in there, as well, and we were talking together. One was the head of nursing at the center, one was the speech therapist, and the third was the occupational therapist, with whom I had shared some of my materials about the Lord earlier in the day. She was commenting about how she was hoping to be able to use them in some ladies classes in her church. As we talked the nurse saw my “West Huntsville Church of Christ” t shirt. She said, “Are you a member of the church of Christ?”

Before I had a chance to get the words out, she came rushing toward me with a huge bear hug as she fairly shouted “Well, hello, Sister!” It was a fun time then, figuring out who of the same folks we knew and which of the same congregations we had visited. At that point, I was excited to give her one of my books, as well. Not wanting the speech therapist to be left out, I was able to give her one, too. I keep being amazed at how God can give us opportunities to talk about Him in the most unlikely places. Suffice it to say that, next week, I am bringing a fresh stash of books back with me.

But the whole point I was getting to is this: Inevitably some things will not be perfect in a facility like the one in which my dad has been living. That’s why we are staying pretty much round the clock with him. There are lots of overworked staff people and sometimes it takes some patience on everybody’s part to make things go smoothly. When I came to understand that this was my sister in the Lord who was in charge of the nursing staff, it made me very relieved that I had not become irate or been unkind when the breathing mask was accidentally left on for an hour after the treatment was finished or when it took a really long time for someone to come when his light was on or when I had to ask for a prescribed medication or go and purchase it myself because of a slow institutional pharmacy. Sometimes stuff like that happens and while I sometimes needed to get more complete communication or ask for attention to needs, I was glad I had always been kind and thoughtful of the shoes in which the nursing staff was walking tirelessly.

And you know what? I think this sister in the Lord was glad she had responded with tenderness instead of coldness to my requests. She had instructed her staff in a kind way, to be more attentive and careful, while she had treated me with the utmost friendliness and respect. She had welcomed me to stay with Dad on my little cot, even though, technically, the visiting hours are not round the clock. She had showed me some Christ-like hospitality, though I am “the least of these.” Fact is, she didn’t know I was one of “these” at all.

Now she does and now I know she’s my sister. Isn’t that the way it should be? In all of our interactions, even when we are on opposite sides of the fence, Christians should be people of kindness and integrity, even when we don’t know the folks with whom we are dealing. When people find out who we are and that we are His, they should say, as I did of Bonita: “I knew there was something of Christ in that person,” rather than “ Wow! I would have never known she was a Christian!”

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