This Sunday our CD (Community/Discipleship) group hit up the Putnam Rehabilitation center to distribute Valentines Day cards our kids had made at our last meeting. Most of the residents were in the 80’s, and were recovering from a variety of different ailments: from broken legs to Pneumonia.
It was a spiritually formative and great experience so I felt it helpful to put some thoughts down on “paper.” Here are some takes from that experience.
1.) Regardless what you study with your CD group, bible study, small group (or whatever you want to call it), it is a necessity that you apply the gospel when you leave. Not just personal application in your own heart and head (where most bible study groups stop), but with your hands. A bible study which simply meets, and its members do nothing but study the bible, without any application to the needy around them, truly miss the heart of God. If we seek to know a God describes Himself as a God to the fatherless and widow (Psalm 68:5), orphan, and broken, and don’t ever find ourselves around such folks, then who we are seeking and studying is not the God of bible. Religious activity like fasting (Isa 58), or in our day bible study/going to church, is not real religion if we don’t also move toward those in need around us. James actually calls such activity, not “real religion” (1:27) and Jesus, following the spirit of Isaiah-since He in essence wrote it-goes even further and says, “I never knew you….you workers of lawlessness.” So out of God’s gracious mercy toward His family, He enables, empowers, motivates, and calls us to lay down our lives for others inside and outside the Church. Not in a way that attempts to earn His favor, but simply in a way that displays His favor toward us.
2.) Most of us had a good time and were blessed taking our kids with us into the nursing home (though technically this was a rehab center). There is something so special about the opportunity to use the blessing of a family, and blessing of a small group, to bless others. Hearing your little ones say, “Happy Valentines Day” is priceless, as is the opportunity to pray and visit people who have need of visitors.
3.) Time commitment in such an environment is really quite minimal. We spent 40 minutes or less, walking from room to room, handing out cards, chatting, and praying with some. What small commitment for us was a HUGE benefit to them.
4.) Koinonia, the word translated “fellowship” as well as “participation” in the N.T., means more than just chatting over cookies and coffee. That is part of it for sure, but not all of it. I felt a deeper sense of fellowship and connection to Christ and to His body as we served alongside of one another. We got to chat in the parking lot before and after, but we were fellowshipping the whole time.
5.) Nursing homes are not my favorite place to serve. They might not crack the top 3. At times I enjoyed it, and at times I didn’t. Amy wants to go back weekly with the boys. I’m content to make it more monthly. Some would probably rather make it yearly. Nevertheless, our theology, as well as the very gospel itself, is our true motivation to be uncomfortable so that others can find some comfort. In addition, we comfort others with the comfort which we’ve been comforted (II Cor 1:4).
6.) Those of us who served and didn’t enjoy it as much as their children, need not feel guilty. There are many ways to serve others around us. It is good to be stretched out of our comfort zones, and let Jesus become our comfort. But it is also fair to realize that different people have different gifts, and different folks will enjoy different opportunities on varying levels. If you can find an opportunity where you can serve AND enjoy, that’s a confirmation you’re in the right place. If you can’t find one that matches up, then serve alongside others, your family (my joy increased with Connar’s joy), or small group and you’ll find a deeper fellowship than you’ve known before. It will be worth it.