This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)
Last month, my father-in-law had quadruple bypass surgery. As you can imagine, this was a tense time for our family.
While he was in surgery and we were all in the waiting room, several friends of my in-laws joined us. One set of visitors surprised us. I’ll call them Mr. and Mrs. B. Since we lived in the same city as my in-laws until about 10 years ago, I know this family, but I didn’t know they were good friends with my in-laws.
They sat in the waiting room with us during the surgery, and rejoiced with us when we heard that the surgery went well. They didn’t just sit quietly though; they struck up conversations with many of the family members, both with those they knew (like us) and with family member that they had never met before.
After surgery, when they were leaving the hospital, I heard Mrs. B say that she was going to work at the local crisis center that afternoon. The crisis center provides food and clothing to families that are in need. The food and clothing are provided by people from the various churches in the county, and are distributed by volunteers to people who come by the center. So, besides giving up their morning spending time comforting our family, they were giving up their afternoon serving others in need – mostly people that they did not know.
At dinner that night, I asked my mother-in-law about this family. I said, “I didn’t realize you were good friends with Mr. and Mrs. B.” She said, “We’re not. We’re in the same Sunday School class with them, but we don’t do anything else with them.”
Then, my mother-in-law said the following: “But, that’s just the way they are. They are always the first people to visit whenever someone is in the hospital. When Frank (my father-in-law) was taking chemo treatments for his prostate cancer, they were the only ones who brought us food. We didn’t ask for it; they just brought it on their own.”
I said something like, “Well, those are the kind of friends we all need.” And, its true! Not only that, but that’s the kind of friend we all need to be to others.
Mr. and Mrs. B do not wait for others to ask for help before they being serving. And, they do not only serve those with whom they are close friends. When they see a need, they meet that need if its in their ability. They are willing to give up time and resources for people that they do not know, and who cannot pay them back or serve them back.
By the way, this family is part of a very traditional church organization. They have probably never heard the word “missional”. But, they know how to share their lives with others, both within the structure of the church organization and outside that structure.
This is a great demonstration of love – the love of Christ! This is an example that we can all follow, regardless of our giftedness, talents, resources, or lack thereof. God loved us by giving. We can only respond to his love by giving of ourselves to others.