“They don’t want to see you,” hisses the little voice in my head. “They’ve got better things to do than visit with you. You’ll look like a fool traipsing around there looking for someone to talk with. Go home before it’s too late!”
The voice has always been most insistent when I show up for our monthly Christian Music Hour. That was especially true in the early years, when I arrived lugging boom box and CD case and enough hand-made songbooks for the 15 residents who gathered faithfully in the Activities room to sing or snooze or do a little of both.
Conditions have improved remarkably since then. These days, up to 50 residents and family members gather together to worship each month. We meet in the main dining room now, and hymns recorded by men like Tennessee Ernie Ford and Jim Nabors go out over fancy audio equipment. A wonderful volunteer preacher delivers a five-star Bible message while his children help other volunteers turn songbook pages and hand out gospel tracts.
Still, I sometimes hear a familiar warning when I make that final turn into the parking lot: “They’re just showing up as a favor to you. They don’t really want to be there. Go home!”
This voice speaks less frequently today, after almost two decades of visits and hymn sings. I’ve learned not to think about myself so much, I suppose, and to focus instead on serving the Lord Jesus Christ amongst those James mentioned in his epistle to the 12 tribes (1:27a): “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.”
Our old folk are all orphans, and almost all are widows or widowers, and so I continue visiting. He is faithful and so I will be, too.
And almost invariably, I’m the one who is blessed. By the time I point my weary bones towards home, my heart is filled with joy that lasts until the next visit.
Please don’t let anyone – least of all that nasty little voice in your head – prevent you from visiting the elderly. You can make someone’s day simply by investing a little time, effort and love. And more often than not, he or she will make your day, too.