The Least of These

Today my daughter and I visited a nursing home. To say that it was pleasant is to tell an untruth. The place was, to all of my senses, detestable. Smelly, noisy, and full of hopeless inactivity to be sure; but it was the lifeless despair which most characterized the inmates of that place. My heart broke for them as I saw them in wheelchairs parked along the halls or gathered enmasse around a television to watch the latest round of daytime dribble. Surely, surely we had entered the home of “the least of these.” Yet we prayed our visit might touch someone; that a life would be changed, nevermore the same.

We were quickly escorted to the room of a certain “Ms. ________,” an apparent stroke victim who could only gasp out an excited “yes, yes!” at our coming. The light in her eyes told a history of few—if any—visitors.

We sat down and asked again if she would mind if we came and sat with her for a minute or two. Again, the furtive, “yes, oh yes.” As we began to comment on the few keepsakes in an otherwise sparse room, it became apparent that her fervid “yes, yes” and “no, no” spanned the width and breadth of her vocabulary. Mingled frustration and delight punctuated every word.

Inwardly, I sought a way to share the Gospel with this lady. After all, the sincere “yes, yes” of a humble heart is all that is required. But as I asked her if I might pray with her, I noted the light die in her eyes as she mumbled a decided, “No, no.”

We stayed yet a little while longer and asked if we might come again. Excitement re-ignited her eyes and she said, “Yes, oh yes!”

Leaving that place, my daughter and I made plans to return—plans to bring items she might enjoy, perhaps read to her if she’d like. Perhaps one day she will respond differently. Perhaps one day she will say to Him, “Yes, oh yes!”

But not today. Rather, this was the day when my heart was enlarged for the forgotten among “the least of these. And perhaps this day marked the beginning of a friendship that will someday culminate in the breathless, “yes, oh yes” of a soul newly awakened to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today my daughter and I visited a nursing home. And I will never be the same.

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