It’s been several years since Tom died of cancer, but he’s been on my mind again lately. He was a good old country boy, a retired railroader. He and his wife had several adult children who lived nearby. Tom’s house was situated on about an acre lot. The deep back yard gently sloped down to a small creek, bordered by a steep hill on the far side. The yard was spotted with ceramic animals, a bird bath, a wishing well and a wagon wheel amidst some mature trees. Hanging from an old metal children’s swing set frame was a wooden porch swing, where Tom and I had some good conversation.
Tom’s immediate transparency surprised me. Within the first minutes of my initial visit he admitted to episodes of discouragement. But he also quickly pointed to his source of encouragement. He handed me a copy of, “The Healing of the Mind and Soul in the Twenty-Third Psalm,” by Charles Allen. It was a small pamphlet, about four by six inches and 22 pages. Tom shared, “Whenever I start getting discouraged I read this pamphlet. When you break down the 23rd Psalm and really understand what it means for us to be sheep and for God to be our shepherd, you get a lot of comfort from it.” It was obvious that Tom not only knew the Psalm, he also knew the Shepherd.
As I do with all our hospice patients, I asked Tom and his wife if they had enough help. Tom replied, “If my children waited for me to ask for help, that grass out there would be up to my rear end by now. I don’t have to ask. My kids come in, look around, see and do.”
The day Tom died I shared with his children what he’d told me about their love and support. I also admitted to them that their examples were not only inspiring but also convicting. Do I, “Come in, look around, see, and do”? Or do I wait to be called?
What if we awoke each morning and made it our primary goal to be benevolently responsive to the world around us? I believe that to do so would be to encounter God Himself. For, we don’t find God by escaping responsibilities, but by embracing them. I believe that we would experience exhilaration, a renewed sense of adventure and spiritual quickening that comes only from being caught up in a purpose greater than ourselves! We would experience deliverance from our self-centeredness, our self-pity and become what the author, John Eldridge, terms “Wild at Heart”.
Oh to be benevolently responsive and to live a life of benevolent responsibility Are you ready? Then let’s, “Come in, look around, see and do? After all, doesn’t love go without saying.
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
Loren Hardin is a social worker for Southern Ohio Medical Center – Hospice and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-356-2525.