Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Pray and Sing!"

     The service was, for all practical purposes, concluded.  The message was delivered, the last hymn sung, and the last prayer prayed.  Nevertheless, a voice behind me spoke a word of reminder:

    "Glen, we're not finished yet.  We haven't sang "Jesus Loves Me."
    Liz, the woman who spoke the words, is a sweet and wonderful Christian lady who has been a blessing to us and to many at the nursing care section of the retirement community where she is a resident, and where we conduct services.  

Interestingly, it has not actually been our practice to sing "Jesus Loves Me" at the end of our services.  Perhaps Liz hopes that it will become our benedictory hymn, and sought to begin a very good and blessed habit.  We certainly honored her suggestion, and it was a rich blessing to see and hear so many senior adults sing words that have been in their hearts and on their lips since childhood.

    Along these lines, Liz shared with us that when she encounters a fellow resident who is feeling down and discouraged, she tells them to go find a place to pray and sing "Jesus Loves Me."  "It seems to encourage many of them" she said, "and it surely helps me."  A serious look then came upon Liz's face as she concluded, "We have a lot of problems around here, you know."  

     I was greatly blessed by the ministry Liz has at the facility, the ministry of reminding people of the most important truth any of us can ever know.  "Jesus loves me."  I wonder how her reminder affects people, and of its eternal ramifications.  Will people be born again because they "find a place to pray and sing Jesus Loves Me?"  Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised to meet people along some golden Heavenly street who testify that they met the Lord when "this sweet lady in a nursing home told me to pray and sing Jesus Loves Me."  Also, how many believers does Liz encourage and lift up on a daily basis by her gentle reminder?  Many, I'm sure.  "Consider Him... lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Hebrews 12:3).

     I was also deeply touched by Liz's honest admission of the difficulties she and the other residents face in their daily lives.  "We have a lot of problems around here, you know."  One can only imagine what she means by this.  Liz lives in a nursing home.  Little more need be said, other than the thought that in the truest sense, this is actually not the case.  Liz lives on a mission field, one to which God has called her, and for which He has gifted her.  She understands this, and thus spends her days encouraging believer and unbeliever alike to direct people to the only Hope that exists for every human heart.

     We can face, survive and thrive in any contingency so long as we know our Lord and His love are with us.  "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Romans 8:37).  A dear sister in a nursing facility knows this personally, and communicates this powerfully.  May her example illuminate, encourage and challenge us to the same confidence in the God whose presence is so filling and fulfilling that the musical remembrance of "Jesus Loves Me" redounds to His glory in the halls of a nursing facility, and in the hearts of its residents.

"And the multitude rose up together against Paul and Silas: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them."
(Acts 16:22-25)

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