Wait and See
My wife Amy and I have just taken on the most difficult assignment of our lives. Amy’s elderly parents, living in Southern Alabama, were in need of daughter care. For the past 40 years we had lived out our lives and callings in Canada. Amy had worked as a nurse. I had served as Pastor, Professor and Dean. I was not ready to take an early retirement, but we realized that God was calling us to leave our homeland, our vocations, and our church to take on a new venture.
This new venture (I could not call it an adventure!) would take little advantage of the skills we possessed. Though they could use the nurse part of Amy’s formation, they would have little use for my theology lectures, or my sermons, or my administrative skills. I had been used to a world of high-energy undergraduates, now I was to be immersed in senior care and quiet moments, and waiting and being, with nothing much to do.
For months the questions returned, what are we doing here? This seems to be such a waste of time and talent and energies. I need to get back to my work. I need to make a living. How does this lack of activity further the work of King and Kingdom? So I wait, restlessly. I care, carelessly. I serve in sadness. I do not like myself in this mood.
Then I remembered John Wesley’s sermons: “On Visiting the Sick” and “On Zeal” where he arranges the “means of grace” in a hierarchy. Attendance at church he puts the lowest and least effective means. Then he lists the works of piety, reading the scriptures, receiving the sacraments, private and public prayer, and fasting, and admits these are only moderate means of grace. But then he claims that participating in works of mercy are the highest means of grace. It is there, he insists, that God is most actively present, it is where we are most like-God or godly. He also underscores the claim that visiting with the sick is one of the ways we worship God best. Jesus said, “In as much as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.” If worship is ministering to God, then ministering to the needs of the ill and housebound is serving our Lord himself.
So I will wait and see. I will watch to see if the God of all grace can turn this venture into an adventure into regions not yet explored. He’s full of surprises!
Published in Light and Life, November-December, 2005