Recently, I was asked what was my most valuable gift and without hesitation, here was my response:
I think my favorite thing to give away is my TIME. I
absolutely love to hang out, comfort, encourage, or just be a companion for a
fun hour or two. One of my favorite activities is visiting those who are
elderly and shut-in. I learn so much history from their stories, their memories
and adventures of wonderful past-times! I enjoy reading the Bible to them and
taking away some of their loneliness. When we were young and dating, my husband
and I used to visit the elderly people in our small town on Sunday afternoons.
These were fun times, always rewarded with a mint, a kiss and a prayer over our
lives. I give my time to bless others, but always walk away feeling I was the
Giving my time is something I will never regret and hope to encourage others to give while there is time. If you take a minute to read my other BLOG - you'll find that my Dad just went HOME to be with His Lord and I'm dealing with the transition of an empty nest.
Dad lived with me for his last 6 years. It was hard to see my strong vigorous Pastor-Dad become feeble both physically and spiritually. You see, as his days became longer bedridden hours, I became his mainstay for encouragement. I coached prayer for others in their needs when discouragement, pain, and weariness could have overcome him. Re-focusing his mind on how his Lord could meet their needs, filled him with gratefulness for the blessed life & health he did enjoy.
We also rejoiced together in all the people he helped along his path of walking with the Lord.
There were many times I begged people in his past to WRITE cards to him because his loneliness overwhelmed me. Neglect of our elderly is to our loss for they are full of stories of God's faithfulness and goodness. I think seeing Dad alone with no one visiting, nudged me to look for others who are possibly needing encouragement. While visiting, I used what had helped my Dad's spirit be lifted up and rejoicing.
I read the Bible to him, encouraging him in passages of verses of hope and comfort, yet assuring him of God's constant presence and blessings.
I also spend time in the Bible every day for my own spiritual well-being. Sharing what I just read that morning gave me fresh and new things that were relevant, with the same response of "Great is thy Faithfulness" found in Lam 3:22-26. I shared what it meant to me to read it that morning, opening the conversation with "I'm spilling over with what God said in his Word this morning..." This often showed the possibilities for the listener to hear how relevant God's mercies are for them.
I listened to Dad's concerns, asking God to remind me of passages that would comfort him, and now, I carry a small Bible so I can turn to passages when verses come to my mind. More than anything, desiring to encourage, I look for passages of promises.
My favorite passage is 2 Peter 1:3-11, "His divine power has given me everything I need for life and godliness through my knowledge of him...through these (his glory & goodness), he has given us his very great and precious promises so that through these promises, I participate in the divine nature"! This is a wow to me!
So, I use this "wow" as a spring board to ask what they know about God (HIS glory & goodness) and how they are participating in God's Divine Nature. This became a daily game with Dad. Eventually, I lead the conversation into the following verses, the ADDING effort. I ask what they are adding to their faith this week. We talk about how useful these are in keeping us from "nearsightedness (thinking only of self), blind (not seeing needs around us), or forgetting we have been cleansed from past sins" (causing a feeling of being lost again).
THIS passage is awesome for many on-going conversations because we are always to be adding to our faith. We can even leave each other with "assignments of addition" for future checks on spiritual growth. Because we are God's ambassador wherever we are, we can always ask each other: "Where were you able to show a character trait of this list, (ie: God's 'goodness) this week?
When Dad was hospitalized, I realized he was encouraged when I could tell him how God was using visiting him as opportunities for me to share God's message with others! While Dad weakly lay in the Hospice House, I had awesome conversations with staff while I sat with him! Dad's gentle spirit and love of people opened doors of God's Word everywhere for me!
Being convinced that people have value makes GIVING MY TIME valuable.
This is our first time in 18 years without elderly care in our home (MIL first for 12 yrs) Visiting others now will be a big step for me because they will remind me of Dad's needed times of encouragement. Writing this has allowed me to joyfully review past experiences and write out a plan, giving new courage to go on alone without my Dad, ministering to those who need TIME.
May God bless your giving of time!