Vera was petite, soft spoken and deliberate. You could see it in her eyes. She was unhurried and she carefully evaluated facts and ideas before speaking. She seemed to respect the danger and injustice of premature evaluations and advice.
Vera was 86 years old when referred to hospice for colon cancer. Her cancer was wide-spread and the cause of her inoperable pathological fractured hip. She was bedfast and her hospital bed was against the living room wall, immediately inside her front door. Her two daughters cared for her at home and hoped they would be able to for the duration of her illness. But they were concerned. One daughter had surgery planned and the other who lived in Arizona, was on a family medical leave from work, and her leave was running out.
Conversation was strained during my initial home visit, until we touched upon Vera’s passion, her faith in God. Vera suddenly became animated as she reminisced about her and her husband being in a gospel music group, “We played at different churches and denominations.” Her daughter added, “There’s only one church anyway.”
Vera shared about playing at a particular church: “A fellow asked us to play at his church but we heard that they didn’t believe in stringed instruments. When we got to the church the fellow who invited us wasn’t there, so we didn’t know if we should play or not. Se we left our music and our instruments in the car and decided that if we were going to play they would have to ask us to. Then a lady said, ‘You come up here and feel free to sing.’ I commented to a lady a couple of seats over, ‘I didn’t think you believed in stringed instruments.’ Then another lady said, ‘We still don’t.’ Regardless, we went out to the car to get our instruments and we went and played. I don’t know if it was something I did or if it was something God did, but that preacher kept perfect time with his foot. I know because I was watching him.”
Vera concluded, “You find good and bad people in every church. Don’t try to tell someone else what to do and you don’t have to ask anyone else what’s right either. You know what’s right and what’s wrong. But you can’t create your own God either. You have to go by the Bible. You know, churches can pick on other churches. You can hear it in their preaching. But if you think I’m doing something wrong, then go tell Jesus on me. But if you tell other people about me you aren’t my brother. My husband said that when you find something you don’t agree with in a church that you have to look at it like eating bean soup. If you find a rock in the soup you take it out and throw it away, but you don’t throw out the beans.’”
I’m not sure I agree with Vera that “You find good and bad people in every church. Because Jesus said, “No one is good but one, that is God.” (Matthew 19: 17). So guess where that leaves the rest of us, with rocks in our bean soup. But aren’t you glad that God in his mercy and grace doesn’t throw out the beans.
“And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst…All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me, I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:35-37)