Matthew 25:37-40 “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
His name was Tony; crippled with CP (cerebral palsy) and bound to a wheelchair, totally dependent on someone to care for his needs. Tony had found our church and began to attend. He would arrange transportation with the city’s service for the handicapped. Once he arrived, he would need someone to care for his needs while he was here.
During one of his times at our church, Tony trusted Jesus as his personal Savior. As we saw his needs more clearly, we understood that he collected aluminum to pay for his transportation to and from church.
Some men of the church got together and created what we called “Tony Sunday” in which a family would have Tony to their house for the afternoon meal and bring him back for evening service saving him money on trips back and forth.
On one special occassion, Tony asked if he could accompany the church to a conference in Hammond, IN. It would mean 24/7 care for the 5 days we would be attending. I stepped forward to be the one to arrange and care for Tony through this time. Meals, changing clothes, restroom stops, medications, sleeping, waking, bathing and all the care that goes along with someone who has CP and unable to care for themselves.
After a few days of intensive care for this dear brother, energy and patience began to wear thin. Battling the crowds, the bathroom stops, meals, and special arrangements for transportation began to take its toll on my spirit.
On one particular day, I was thinly veiling my frustration as we pushed our way to our spot for a certain session. Just as we had gotten set, Tony said loudly, “I have to use the bathroom!” As we bumped and excused our way to the back of the auditorium, I was losing the battle with the desire to just walk away.
We made it to the handicapped bathroom and as Tony did his busness and I sat there fuming at having missed a discussion to which I was so looking forward. It was then I felt clearly the Lord asking me, “Would you take me to the restroom if I asked you?”
“You know I would, Lord” was my immediate response. Just then, today’s passage came into my mind… Even now, at its remembrance, tears began to flow as the conviction over my selfishness and mistreatment in my heart of someone entrusted to my care.
With my head in my hands, weeping, Tony reached over, patted my head and said, “Its OK!”. I confessed in my heart to God of the attitude I fostered and hugged Tony’s neck and told him how much I loved him.
The rest of the week was filled with some of the best fellowship and joy in the service of someone who became Jesus to me. I saw for the first time what it meant to sacrificially give for the needs of another. My back hurt from lifting him so many times. My spirit felt drained from the lack of sleep and constant attention and activity that surrounded Tony’s care.
But that didn’t matter now – I was doing it for Jesus and Tony was the beneficiary.
Over time, we were able to see Tony’s parents, some of his caregivers and those who stayed in his home come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Some were not only saved, but began to come with him to attend our church. On one particular occassion, we arranged to have one of his friends baptized.
It took a number of men to help to carry this man to the baptistry. As I held him in my arms and dunking him below the water, you could have heard angel’s wings as they rose to sing praise to God over the obedience of this dear saint of God!
We miss so many opportunities when we fail to realize just who it is we serve. It may be that handicapped one with needs that are demanding, constant and sometimes cumbersome. It may be that misbehaving bus kid, that simple one or just an elderly man or woman who just lost their spouse.
If you and I heard that Jesus was somewhere here on this earth, we would drop whatever it was we were doing, and rush to that place. It wouldn’t matter. We would do whatever it would take to be in the presence of our Savior. Jesus so lovingly showed me that I can have close, personal fellowship with Him when I serve the least of these.
Every face you see today; every hand you may shake, and every life you come in contact with is an opportunity to enjoy the presence of Jesus Himself.
There are so many needs and opportunities within arm’s reach if we would truly realize that when we do reach out – I am touching my Savior.