In the New Testament, James defines pure religion as visiting people in their afflictions, and also keeping oneself unspotted from the world.
With that thought in mind, I contacted one of my aging grandparents, whose health is steadily declining. I received a phone call from my grandparent a few weeks ago, but the excuses I used for not getting back in touch included work, church service, raising kids, spending time with my wife, not being able to reach out because when I finally do get time it’s about 9:00 p.m. and my grandparent is in bed.
So the days turned into weeks and I would say almost daily to my wife “I should call my Grandpa” and finally she told me to quit saying that and just schedule it on my calendar, which I did.
When I called, there was a different voice on the phone than what I was used to hearing and I was confused. I asked if I had the right number and he told me I did, but my Grandpa was too sick to talk. However, when my Grandpa heard it was me on the phone, he motioned to the caregiver and he passed the phone over, warning me that there were sores all over my grandpa’s mouth and it was hard to understand him.
The voice I heard on the other end was frail and muffled. I was humbled that despite his very poor circumstances, he wanted to make time for a conversation with me. I reflected on all the good things my father taught me, which he had learned from my grandfather. I was lucky enough to also live in the same town as my grandparents, so I got to know them very well as a young kid and teenager. They sacrificed a lot for all of us.
The conversation was pretty short as he needed to get some rest, but I reflected on the call. Why did it take me so long to call? If I were living in the same town as him, would I be too busy to stop by regularly?
I then reflected on the scripture on pure religion.
James does NOT say that pure religion is going to church, holding a high calling or position of authority, paying tithing, and a whole list of other things that one could name in association with being “religious”. Rather, James says a key part of pure religion is visiting those who are afflicted.
It takes extra effort to go above and beyond and schedule time to visit those who are sick and afflicted. It takes another step to go and visit with a heart filled with pure love as Jesus would have us do. Many times the elderly seem helpless and have certain quarks or things that are annoying. It takes the love of Jesus to look past those things and remember that at one point in our lives, whether we were teenagers, young kids, or helpless babies that our parents and/or grandparents took time to selflessly give us love and care.
It’s easy to get caught up in many things in life, but I hope that we all can remember to schedule time to regularly visit, talk with, or serve our aging parents and/or grandparents or other elderly people we may know who are suffering before it’s too late and we have regrets. This time, I was fortunate enough to have reached out in time, but it took me way to long to do so. My plan is to schedule time regularly on my calendar so I make it a regular habit.
What are some suggestions and ways that you go about caring for the elderly?